A father and son, fishing in a small boat on a remote Canadian lake, comprise the picture of a classic summer outdoors vacation.
Or picture father and son aboard a charter fishing boat off Cape Cod, filling coolers with great-tasting saltwater fillets. Not bad at all. Two tales, both worth noting:
First, the story of three fathers and three sons in three small boats in Canada. It is more than triple the fun, if you ask Jay Dierker of Pemberville.
“You get to spend a whole day in a 141/2-foot Vee-bottom with your son - and you get to solve all the world's problems,” said Dierker, summing up what he rightly calls the essence of such a trip.
Indeed, fishing is not always just about the fish. “It's a unique thing. You have a captive audience.”
The crew on this idyllic trip included Dierker and son Matt and two other father-son teams from the Pemberville area, Gary White Sr. and son Gary Jr., and Doug Zellner and son Ryan. The young men all are 15 and will be sophomores at Eastwood High School.
Their recent 10-day adventure began with a long haul by road - “as far as she goes” - some 350 miles north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. From there, Hearst Air Service flew the six outdoorsmen another 80 miles north-northeast to a mile-square body of water, McLeaster Lake. There, a solitary cabin and three fishing boats awaited. No power, no flush toilet - only Coleman lanterns and an outhouse.
“We've been taking these boys somewhere every year,” said Dierker. In past summers they have been whitewater rafting and canoeing, among other ventures. They started camping when the boys were just in third grade.
“We try to make the trip a little more interesting each year.” In perhaps a couple of years, the dads want to take their sons antelope hunting out West.
The fishing? Fine, as expected. “All the northern pike we could catch,” said Dierker, adding that their week-long tally on pike was 200-plus. The largest landed was 341/2 inches and 101/2 pounds.
The fishermen also found “real good” walleye, taking typical far-northern fish of about 11/2 pounds, all wearing a familiar dark back and golden cast of northern waters that make Lake Erie walleye, though larger, look pale. Their largest 'eye was about 31/2 pounds.
The men used the familiar suite of Canadian lake baits, from worm harnesses to spoons and buzzbaits. Dierker took a portable fish-finder along to help locate underwater humps and other fish-holding structure - a good idea.
He said it stayed light until 10:30 at night, giving them extended fishing hours to take in a great walleye bite as darkness closed in. The lake, he added, was just right - not too large that they couldn't let the boys do a little fishing and exploring on their own in a boat, yet not too small to feel crowded.
Northern Lights one evening, and moose calves wandering within 60 yards of the cabin were icing on the cake.
Speaking of icing, Jim Lind and son Jimmy of Curtice, and a crew of friends had plenty of fish-icing to do after a trip to Cape Cod.
Their goal, after a 13-hour drive to Green Harbor, Mass., was to charter out and fish the Stellwagen Banks off the famous cape. The rest of the crew included friends Amy Millimen, Bryan Kusian and Dave Wroblewski.
Fishing in 200 to 400 feet of water, they tackled cod, pollock, haddock and striped bass. They were not disappointed.
For the first three deepwater species, they used 17 to 24-ounce lead weights shaped like Swedish Pimples and called crippled herrings. Hooks were baited with six-inch sassy shad. They biggest cod was 42 inches and 32 pounds.
For stripers, or rockfish, they trolled umbrella-type spreaders trailing 8 to 12 hooks, again baited with the shad. Limited to one striper apiece, they had no trouble filling out on fish averaging 20 pounds apiece on these feisty, strong gamefish. On the first of two days of fishing, they caught 600 pounds of fish, mostly cod. They followed up with a 400-pound catch the next day.
Last year the crew tried the same trip in September and along with the aforementioned species they landed a monstrous trophy - and eight-foot, 550-pound giant bluefin tuna. That prize fish was sold at the dock, and the crew's share easily covered their trip.
Needless to say, this crew is going back for another Cape Cod adventure, next time perhaps in March. Jim's spouse, Connie, said they vacuum-packed 86 packages of fish for the winter and that a big family fish-fry is in the works. No doubt.
Fishing report: The red-hot walleye action continues on western Lake Erie, but the lake recently yielded a rare but increasingly common prize -a muskellunge.
The fish, 30 inches and about 15 pounds, was caught by Mark Raymond of Monroe, Mich., while walleye fishing with buddy Craig Carter of Toledo. It was the first time in three months that Raymond, recovering from back surgery, was able to get out.
The men casting weight-forward spinners in Brest Bay just north of Monroe, when the toothy trophy hit.
“We have lost a lot of lures there,” Carter said. “The old-timers say we should be using wire leaders.”
In other words, more muskies may be around. Lake St. Clair, just up the Detroit River, is a muskie haven. Also, as western Lake Erie has become more clear and more bottom vegetation returns to shallower areas, such species as muskies, northern pike and largemouth bass are reappearing.
Carter said that before the muskie hit, they had seen a large fish with an orange-tinted dorsal fin rolling on the surface. They released the fish after measuring it.
“It was a beautiful fish,” said Carter. I hope someone else gets to catch it, too.”
In other Erie angling news, walleye fishing has been good in enough places to simply say, take your pick. And make your casting lures or spinners gold. The large area from the Bass Islands west to the Michigan line along the Toledo Ship Channel continues to produce limit catches for many.
Some of the better areas are off Crane Creek State Park, northwest of Green Island, northeast of West Sister Island, and north of the reef complex and around F-Can on the Canadian line, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
On the Michigan side, try Brest Bay, off Sterling State Park, or Luna Pier.
Yellow perch also are being heard from. The wildlife division cites Kelleys Island, west of Catawba Island peninsula, and northeast of the Marblehead Lighthouse as likely suspects for perch detectives. On the Michigan side, try around E-buoy off Monroe, according to Matthews Bait Shop there.
Steve Pollick is The Blade's outdoor writer. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.