My business is to provide people the opportunity to sample the exciting and challenging fishing available at the southern end of Lake Michigan. This page is dedicated to showing a bit of the behind-the-scenes work it takes to do that and to highlight the trips and fun my customers are able to experience.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


I first saw the Gear Grabbar (no misspelling) at the inaugural Chicagoland Fishing, Travel and Outdoor Expo last winter.  “Just another lure organizing tool,” I thought to myself. When Jennifer Gesik, sales director, demonstrated the Gear Grabbar, I thought, “Wow, it may just be another gear organizing tool, but it’s a cool one.”

I’ve used similar things in the past. Some were chunks of foam fastened in a strategic location. Others were shallow trays to contain stray hooks and tackle or little ledges with holes to poke hooks to keep lures in check. It was just as easy to put a lure back in the tackle box as in the temporary hook-holder.

So what makes the Gear Grabbar different? Magnets! And more.

The more is the aluminum bodied Gear

Grabbar is configured similar to a piece of angle iron. Mount the GG so the back part of the angle is against the mounting surface, the other part of the angle is like a shelf with the imbedded magnets facing down. Mounting is simple with two-sided sticky-tape dots (included) or by fastening to the backing with stainless steel screws or bolts.

Jennifer Gesik, the GG-Girl
When you take out a lure, or take it off the line, it’s simple to just slap it up under the GG and it sticks. The magnets are so powerful, you can throw the lure at it and the hooks will stick. When they are stuck under the ledge, they are much less likely to catch on pants, shirts or worse, skin, if you accidently brush against the GG.

I ran into Jennifer again recently at an outdoor writer’s gathering. I verbally gave her a testimonial about how much I liked the Gear Grabbar on the boat and picked up couple more, as well. I will be putting them somewhere.  Available in black or white, look for them at Cabela’s, Bass Pro and other tackle shops or at www.magneticmarineproducts.com .

Sunday, August 4, 2013


   Years ago a friend of mine showed up to fish wearing a pair of Oakley Sunglasses. He was proud of them and with a price on the far side of $100, he should have been.
Sunglasses are vital fishing tools, but they
don't have to be overly expensive.
   Now, don’t get me wrong! A good pair of sunglasses are important when fishing. They cut the glare, protect your eyes from UV radiation and function as safety glasses. But they don’t have to cost on the far side of a hundred bucks.
    The boat I owned at the time had fairly wide, carpeted gunwales. For some reason Larry took off his glasses, laid them on the gunwale close by his elbow and a fish bit.  It’s not a long story, but sad. “Fish on,” was called. Elbows flew. Oakley’s went into the lake and we could see the faint sparkle of the O even as the black frames faded away as the pricey spectacles sunk below the waves. .
    Larry was naturally upset and the loss sent him into an amazing display of stringing multiple curse words together into a sentence that made supercalifragilistic... seem as short as a personal pronoun. It was a truly awesome performance.
    Twenty minutes later I decided to change the lure on the back downrigger. When the downrigger weight came up out of the water, there were the Oakleys, the earpiece folded securely around the downrigger wire. Since I was between Larry and the prize he didn’t see them so I quickly grabbed them, folded them up, slid them into my breast pocket and closed the flap.
    Another 20 minutes went by and I mentioned the lost sunglasses once again and goaded Larry into another, almost as good as the first time, string of cursing as he bemoaned the lost glasses and lost money. So I told him that since he felt so bad, I’d let him have them back and pulled the lost and found pair of sunglasses from my pocket.
    It was grand. Had I pulled a rabbit from my pocket he couldn’t have been more incredulous!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


One of the reasons I love fishing Lake Michigan is because of the chance to catch some of the largest fish available in fresh water. Many, many people have scored their biggest fish ever on the Brother Nature.  A few of them have taken their fish home whole, with plans to deliver it to a taxidermist to make a lasting trophy, a lasting memory of their catch. Most settle for a simple snapshot.
With today’s digital cameras and cell phones, a snapshot is an easy and almost free way to remember the catch.  But is it a real trophy?
Getting the fish mounted is quite expensive. Measure the fish’s length, put a tape around it’s belly and add the two together. A big salmon can be 3 feet long and have a 20 inch or larger waistline. Call it 56-inches, total. Now multiply that by $10 per inch and your trophy catch can cost you way on the far side of $500.
I was recently contacted by a person who offers another, way less costly option. It’s called Fototrophy.
Send them a good quality photo of you and your catch. They print out the photo, securely laminate it to a thick acrylic backing, then carefully cut out the outline of you and the fish (deer, turkey or whatever). The cut-out is secured to a base plate and the result is a realistic trophy that can be displayed on a mantle, desk, bookshelf or anywhere you choose. It looks almost 3-D.
The cost is reasonable. A 5-inch Fototrophy costs $40, an 8-inch is $60. Personally, the 8-incher is the way to go.  Much more impressive. The photo shown here is a Fototrophy of me and a young angler who caught a lake trout almost as big as he.  If you think it looks good, you should see it in person!  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


One of my favorite and most effective lures to catch springtime coho salmon in Indiana is a #4 Mepps Fury spinner - the one with the black blade and hot-orange dots. Most people don’t use spinners but when spring storms roil the water, I’ve come in with limit catches while most others came in almost skunky. Thanks to the Mepps.
   I am an outdoor writer and wrote of the success of these spinners in many articles. The public relations department at Mepps appreciated the free advertising and offered me steep discounts and even sent free samples of new or featured products. I admit to being “frugal” so I availed myself of the discounts and welcomed the freebies.
   Some of the new stuff I tried worked okay, some not at all, but I tried them all.
   Sometime along the line, Mepps decided to enter the Great Lakes trolling lure market. They slimmed down their popular casting spoon, the Mepps Syclops and made a similar model (in proven Great Lakes colors) but stamped it out of thin metal to make it more of a flutter spoon, great for trolling on downriggers or divers, horrible for trying to cast.
    They sent me an assortment of Syclops Lites and to say I was unimpressed at the time is generous. At the time, magnum spoons were the rage. Why? Because you could come in with limits of caught on the large, five-inch mags and come in skunked if using the less-than-four-inch, standard sized spoons. The largest Mepps Syclops Lite is less than four inches in length.
   Times change and so do what the fish are biting. Lucky for fishing lure companies, unlucky for us guys that have to spend money to keep the best lures in the water. Right now, mag spoons are out, standard size and even a bit smaller are in.
    A week or so ago, I was digging through some dusty tackle boxes and found my long-neglected stash of Mepps Syclops Lites. “Why not drag them out,” methinks? So I did, and then when fishing, I thought of trying them.
   And they worked! I’m not saying they set the world on fire, but on a couple of trips, they were the only spoons that caught fish. On others, one or another of the colors were the “stud” lure of the day.
   Solidly built, the Syclops Lites have quality rings and hooks, paint that sticks and best of all, they do catch fish.  If you can’t find them in your favorite tackle shop, go to www.mepps.com and you can order them on-line. You want the size three and they are available in 15 finishes including several Glo-colors.  The GLO/lime has been among the best for me, but don’t count out any of the other patterns.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Fresh salmon is a blank slate
for a good cook. 

I get a lot of first-time salmon fishermen on my boat. Once the cooler starts filling with fish, it’s not long until someone asks, “What’s the best way to cook these?”

“The best way?” You can’t even get people to agree on the best way to cook an egg. Some like scrambled, others over easy or poached. The truth is, there is no “best way,” just different ways.

I’ve had people tell me, “I’d come out fishing with you, but I tried some Great Lakes salmon once and it was awful.”
Salmon are perfect for a
Great Lakes Fish Boil

That really surprised me, but when asked how the fish was cooked, the salmon-haters usually mention grilled, baked or that some “special” recipe was followed.

“Do you bake fish very often?” I ask.

The answer is usually no.

“Maybe you aren’t fond of baked fish,” I’ll reply. “Maybe the cook isn’t a very good baker of fish.”

So I’ve developed a pat answer I use when a newcomer asks for cooking tips. First, I answer their question with a question. “What kind of fish do you usually cook and how do you cook them?” Whether their answer is walleye, crappie, sunfish makes no difference. Neither does their preferred recipe, whether that’s pan fried, sauteed or baked in butter.

Oven baked with a Panko Crust. 
“Cut the salmon fillets into pieces that are about the same size as the fish you normally cook. Use the same breading mix, herbs or seasoning as you would use on your crappie fillets and cook them just as though they are a mess of crappies. The point is, you know how to cook fish that way, you enjoy eating fish cooked that way and I guarantee, you’ll like your salmon just as well or maybe even better. It will give you a basis for comparison. And if you get busy and catch a couple more, you’ll have plenty of meat to try in other, more exotic recipes.”

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I sent Doug Wheelock an email that said this. “Doug: There is some good news in the forecast. In checking the intimate details, the UV Index while you are to be here is to stay near-zero. That will certainly save on sunscreen costs! Looking forward to your visit! Capt. Mike.”

Doug Wheelock is the leader of a loose collection of  friends, relatives and in-laws from or living near Sioux City, Iowa who trek to Indiana every spring for three days of fishing. I call it the Iowegian Attack!

Foul weather has been a frequent participant dating back to the first ever Iowegian Attack, many years ago. I called Doug and told him the weather report was bad - make that horrible - and not the sort of day many would find enjoyable. I suggest we cancel or “reschedule.”

“Nope,” said Doug, “We’re coming and just make the best of it.”

They came and we did make the best of it. I don’t remember the details, but I’m sure we were cold, plenty bounced around - and we caught some salmon.

The Iowgian Attack has taken place in late March, usually in April and once in May. One arrival day coincided with 10-inches of snow and we had to pull the boat with Doug’s 4WD Suburban rather than my then, two-wheel-drive tow vehicle.

White Bass and Stripers
We’ve only stayed off Lake Michigan a few times for safety reasons. Day one forecast this year was for north wind and 20-foot waves.  I used my Captain’s prerogative and cancelled the first scheduled day on Lake Michigan. As an alternative, however, we drove to Monticello, IN to fish the Tippecanoe River below Norway dam. When we arrived the water was gushing through the dam because of the heavy rains. I doubted the fishing would be good. Maybe we could give up early and not fish in the rain all day?

No such luck! A few casts and the first of many white bass bit my Roadrunner jig. Doug caught a catfish. We even caught some hybrid stripers! Well, okay, we had some luck after all, we just had to endure the rain and drizzle to prevail.

On Thursday only three boats left the harbor at East Chicago, me with the Iowegian crew and two other charter boats. After the storm, we suspected tough fishing and agreed to split up in search of fish. If anyone found a concentrated number, we'd each other know. One of us went north, one west and we headed east. No one found appreciable numbers.

Who is that masked man? It's Doug Wheelock dressed for the
typical Iowegian Attack weather. 
We had our first bite, but lost the fish, at 9AM; then we actually caught a salmon at 10:02! The other boats each had a fish or two as well, but no one had found a hotspot. The skies lightened a bit and more fish started finding our lures. In the next couple of hours, 17 fish were dragged close enough to scoop aboard before we called the day over and successful.

 It was snowing on Saturday morning as we suited up in our foul-weather gear. Not the pretty flakes you’d like to see on Christmas Eve. The tiny, almost pellet-like snow that stings on a hard wind. It stung!
 What did I expect? It was the Iowegian Attack, 2013.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Crayfish are a staple in Louisiana

    I’d like to think I can remember every fishing trip I take on the Brother Nature. I do remember some of them, pieces of most of them and probably not a whit of others of them. I’ve been fishing Lake Michigan since the 70s, started Brother Nature Fishing Adventures in ‘98 and every year the number of fishing trips I host has grown. Forgive me if I can’t remember the details of each and every one.
     One of the most memorable trips, however, started with a call I got one evening asking: #1 “how the fishing was” and #2 “if I could go the next day?” The answers were good and yes, so the arrangements were made.

     That’s not all that unusual. What was unusual is the person making the call was called “Bull” and he was calling from Slidell, Louisiana. It’s a 14-hour drive from Slidell to Lake Michigan and in not much more time than that, we met at the docks to go fishing.

    It’s not that unusual for people to bring a cooler or two along on the boat. Why not? I furnish everything needed for fishing. All people need to bring is enough clothes to be comfy and any drinks or snacks they might want while on the lake. Some people bring nothing, others load on enough gear to last a week.

    Shortly after getting all the lines set and the first few fish caught, Bull opened one of the coolers. A fairly big cooler it was. Large enough to hold 50 pounds of cooked crayfish! I use that measurement because inside the cooler was 50 pounds of cooked crayfish!

    If that sounds like a lot, it is! Granted, by the time you pinch off the heads and front pinchers, peel off the shell and pop whatever is left into your mouth you don’t get a full measure into your belly, but realistically, 50 pounds of crayfish is hundreds and hundreds of the little mud-bugs.

    And lemme-tell-ya, they were still warm and scrumptious.

    I’ve had people come with home-baked cookies, moose jerky, and most any other snack you can imagine, from oysters to ostrich. Nothing I’ve ever eaten on my boat was as good as those Cajun crawdads.

   The fishing was extra good that day. We caught an easy limit of salmon. I don’t know if it was because I was really dialed in, or perhaps it was the crayfish tails, heads and claws we tossed overboard leaving a trail of chum for the fish to follow to our lures.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


   The first fishing trip of the season is always worrisome. Have I forgotten anything? Will everything that worked perfectly when the boat was stored for the winter still work after months of sitting in the cold? Is the plug in the boat? Will the motor start? Friday, March 15, I learned the answers to these and other important questions such as, are the fish biting?
   Yes! The fish were biting. We’ll get to that part in a minute. First, let’s concentrate on the “slippin’” part of this blog’s title.

   I knew it was cold from the ice and frost on my windshield when I hopped in the Suburban in the pre-dawn darkness. By the time I got to the marina, my heater had everything toasty inside, ice and frost all melted away from the window glass and the sun was showing in the east. In a few minutes the tiedowns were loose, bits of gear loaded and I was on the way to the ramp.

   Point number one, I was far from first in line that morning. Several other boats had launched ahead of me. Point number two, it was still below freezing. Point number three, what looked to be wet concrete on the boat ramp was actually frozen glare ice. Point number four, gravity wins almost every time.

   Whoa-daddy! Actually, no whoa was involved. Once all the wheels (both trailer and truck) were on the slope, there was no stopping until the rear wheels of the truck hit the unfrozen concrete under the water.

   The steel factories that line the shore of the Indiana Harbor pump warm water into the basin to prolong their shipping season. The water in the open lake showed 34.5 degrees where I stopped to set up our troll. Inside the harbor the water temp was perfect for cohos and brown trout, in the upper 40s. And that’s where the fish were found. Two cohos and a brown trout came to net - this is the “dippin’” part of the story - on our first pass along the lighthouse wall. It was a start to a magical opening day, when all the gear on the boat worked, I didn’t forget anything and we had a great time “dipping” the landing net on a regular schedule throughout the morning.

Friday, February 15, 2013


    When the first salmon were stocked in Lake Michigan to control the overabundant alewife population, no one knew what would happen. The alewife, an invasive species that migrated into the lakes from the Atlantic Ocean once the shipping lanes were established, exploded in population.
Though they only live a few years, once they became established, trillions of them died from natural causes each summer and their little bodies drifted with the ever changing winds fouling beaches all around Lake Michigan.

   The solution? Stock cohos. Would it work? Time would tell.

   It worked. And the first indication was when commercial fishermen with gill nets set to catch yellow perch in Indiana started catching “funny looking trout” in the spring. The funny fish turned out to be coho salmon.

   What wasn’t known then but is well documented now is that cohos prefer water temperatures around 50 degrees. In a lake like Lake Michigan, which is 300 miles long, the north end cools faster than the south end. As the lake cools in autumn, the baby cohos stocked from hatcheries months earlier migrate south to stay in water temperatures to their liking.

    By late November, all the salmon in the lake have pushed to the south end of the lake. Indiana’s end of the lake. The part of the lake where I work.

   And when winter ends, they are still here. Millions of them.

   When the nearshore waters start to warm in March, they swarm inshore offering the hottest and fastest salmon fishing in the world. That’s why you need to get out there with your own boat or hire me to take you. Where’s the best place to fish?  Where the fish are!

   Spring break is the perfect time to hit the water. Most schools schedule their breaks in late March and early April and that’s the peak of the season time to be out for Indiana’s “spring coho” bonanza. My spring break dates are already filling. If you want to sign on, give me a call soon. Don’t wait, don’t be late. I’ll be there with you or some other person. I’d rather be with you.   Go to www.brother-nature.com for contact info and prices.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


One of the common questions I get is: “Does Lake Michigan ever freeze over completely?”

  The short answer is yes. A more concise answer would be rarely. The last time the lake froze completely was in 1992, so it’s been 20 years.

  I’ve certainly seen what looked to be a completely frozen lake in those interim years however. Here’s what happens. The surface lake water drops to 32 degrees. That means if it’s calm, ice forms on subfreezing nights.
This is a current shot of an Indiana Lake Michigan beach. 

  Add to this the fact that water can exist in both liquid form and solid form at 32 degrees. So the ice that forms on calm nights, in bays or on the upwind side of the lake doesn’t soon melt. Instead, it blows with the wind and if the wind direction stays the same for long enough, it all piles up on the downwind side of the lake. When the wind changes, the ice pack blows to the other side of the lake. By early February, if you are on a downwind shore, you probably can’t see to the open water several miles away. The jagged peaks of the pack ice makes it look as though polar bears should be roaming there hunting seals.

  As winter progresses, the amount of ice increases. In an average year, half or more of the lake’s surface is covered by this growing ice pack, and thanks to frequent north winds in the winter months, a lot of the ice pack is on our end of the lake.

  In addition to the ice pack, miniature glaciers form along Indiana’s beaches and breakwalls. Even before the lake water cools to 32 degrees, early winter storms with subfreezing temperatures and onshore winds send big waves crashing to our shores. The waves pile up, spray wets down rocks, beaches, piers and lighthouses. Each wave splashes a wet layer which quickly  freezes before the next wave comes. Soon inches of ice encapsulate the shore and shoreline features. Inches of ice become feet of ice and until the pack ice forms to guard the shore, beaches and walls may have 10 feet or more of ice extending to the water’s edge.

  So Lake Michigan normally doesn’t often freeze completely, but ice is a regular feature that helps mold and shape the lake’s environment.