On a recent trip I took to Marquette, Michigan, Lake Superior charter captain, Terry Huffman, took a few minute detour from our way out to Stannard Rock to get up close and personal with one of the largest iron ore boats on the Great Lakes. The ship, named the James R. Baker, is one of only 3 carriers on the Great Lakes which measure 1000 feet long.
Most of the lakers–the boats which only operate on the Great Lakes, never venturing out to sea - are 600 to 800 feet long. Most of the "salties," as ocean-going vessels are called are much shorter. The beam of all these ships are constrained by the width of the locks at Sault Saint Marie (to move from Lake Huron to Lake Superior), the locks in the Welland Canal (to by-pass Niagara Falls and move from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario) or the locks at the St. Lawrence Seaway to move ships up the St. Lawrence River and into the lakes.
Here in Indiana with a major international port (the Port of Indiana) as well as several steel mills on the Lake Michigan shoreline, it’s a rare day when we don’t get to view one or more of these huge ships. Early in the spring and during the fall spawning run we often fish within spitting distance of the huge vessels. It’s all a part of the ambiance and vitality of Great Lakes fishing.