Our first charter boat was Sunday afternoon’s journey aboard the “Lie-A-Lot”. One of many charter services harbored in Ludington, MI.
I should probably throw out a disclaimer here and now that this blog post – and any, for that matter – is written as a reflection of my opinions and observations, and while this post is not meant to be an official review or critique, it may come across as such.Take it for what it’s worth.
Geared up and eager to go, we awaited our captain’s arrival. A younger fellow who was clearly not the captain advertised on the website with whom we thought we were booked with showed up just as we were starting to worry. Introductions were exchanged all around as we boarded the 30-something by 12′ vessel. We settled in and motored out of the harbor and off to deeper waters in search of the pink meat.
The afternoon started seemingly slow, having come into this with such high expectations. Fishing reports had pointed towards great recent success most days. Captains bragged around the marina, and every local we spoke with, on the internet, and in Ludington, told us not to worry, charter=salmon. Done deal. So the first several hours, only a few fish to show for it, had us a bit disheartened. We HAD, at least, put our first salmon in the boat, including Nick and I doubling up on a pair of 10lb Cohos, along with a nice King by one of the others in our party.
Our captain eventually got some hot news on the radio that the evening bite was “on” back near the pier-heads and we promptly brought in the 13 rigs we had out and headed back towards Ludington and the area just outside of Pere Marquette Lake.
It did not take long for the action at the pier heads to heat up. Common doubles, with an occasional triple took us very quickly from 3 or 4 to up to 15 fish as we watched the sun slide deliberately and quietly into the lake. Our time up, we assisted the captain in battening down all necessary hatches and setting for the marina, where we unloaded and hung our catch for the proper photographic documentation and readied coolers so that the captain might set to work cleaning and bagging the days harvest.
The final tally found us with 15, two of which were Coho (Silver) salmon, the rest Chinook (Kings). While a couple of the early kings were smaller, most of the late fish were identical, and fell into that 18-20lb range. The Cohos were said to be in the 10lb range.
While I think we had limits on the mind earlier, the size of the fish we did catch, and the excited pace at the end of the day, most of the battle taking place against a perfect sunset, made us forget about the numbers. While the charter started off a bit slow and with some questions, in the end, the captains ability to get us on the fish was what ultimately mattered.
We left the Lie-A-Lot to lay our heads on our pillows for just a little while, excited to get up 4 hours later to do it again… and knowing that at least this time, no fish “tales” need be spun; no lies need be told.