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.

Friday, September 28, 2012


You can tell by the location of the damage
the prop damage occurred when the
boat was backing up.

I could understand a ramp being built in a Lake Michigan marina “too short” in 1987 when the water level in the lake was at a modern day high level. The drought of 1988 solved the high water problems. None of the Chicago skyscrapers fell into the lake and Lake Shore Drive wasn’t flooded, as doomsayers had been predicting. However, the falling water levels continued into the 1990s when the Portage Public Marina was being designed.

So with water levels heading down, and no scientific consensus about what the future water level would be, why not engineer the boat ramps to include another few yards of concrete to ensure the ramp would be sufficiently long, regardless of significant water fluctuations? No answer, but by the end of the decade, receding water levels had rendered the ramp useless for most boats suitably-sized to be safe on Lake Michigan.

It was a two pronged problem. Most boats and trailers, these days, are designed so the boats can be driven onto the trailers. Nose the boat into position, apply a bit of throttle and the boat slides up onto the trailer supports. However, the prop wash caused by power loading on a too-short ramp dislodges the sand or silt at the end of the concrete resulting in a drop off. Imagine, backing your trailer in far enough that the trailer wheels drop into the hole at the end of the submerged concrete. In most cases, you are stuck and in many cases people were stuck.

A complete rebuild or well engineered retrofit would have been very expensive. So instead, a patch was made by hauling large rip-rap sized stones to the ramps and pushing them into the water to fill the hole at the end of the launch ramps. Signs were places warning boaters that power-loading was prohibited.

The launch ramps are open for use 24/7. The marina is staffed from 7 to 7 in-season; 8 to 4 early and late in the boating year. Even when it’s open, the launching and loading of boats is only loosely monitored. One doesn’t have to watch very long on a busy day to see boaters violating the power-loading prohibition.

Currently, the lake is as low as it was in 1987 (due to last summer’s drought and other factors) and only an inch or two shy of the historic record low level reached in 1964. With the water level down, tons of softball to soccer ball sized stones shoring up the ill-designed terminus of the ramp and plenty of power-loaders unknowingly causing damage, my propellor became a casualty.

I was at the marina one day in mid-summer when additional rip-rap was pushed into the hole at the end of the ramp. In retrospect, I should have guessed what was happening. With the lake level down, even the large rocks were being “blown” out of position as high-powered boats were goosed onto their trailers. Where did those displaced rocks go?

Add caption
They formed an artificial reef to the rear of the hole and when I lowered my propellor into the water and backed away from the ramp, it impacted on the displaced rocks. Pictured is the result. This damage is from a single launch. The prop was perfect, previously.

So beware at Portage and beware at other locations, as well. I doubt the marina can or will do anything the rest of this season. Normally, water levels in the Great Lakes drop over the winter so be doubly aware in the spring. And if you sneak in a “power-load” after hours for convenience, cut it out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


        I can’t say Steven Berg grew up on my boat, but he, his dad and uncle have fished with me many times since Steve was old enough to turn the crank on a reel. Actually, Steve started when he was almost old enough to crank a reel.

       A favored “fish tale” on my boat is the about the first day Steve fished with me, caught a limit of cohos and never lost a fish. Lot’s of people can say that, but not a 6 or 7 year old who took about 15 minutes to reel in each fish, mostly while the fish swam freely, lure dangling from its mouth, swimming hither, yon and anywhere else it pleased as he awkwardly and intermittently managed to reel.

His time on the Brother Nature must have made an impression on him to some degree. Now in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and awaiting deployment overseas, Steve was home on leave. While on leave he had a bucket list of favorite places to visit, food to eat and things to do. Among them, fish Lake Michigan on the Brother Nature.

          I explained it’s late in the season, the fall run has been sporadic, at best - actually one of the worst ever - but if he wants to go, we’ll go.

We went. At the crack of dawn, I started deploying the lines and lures we’d be using. One line set, start on the next and, “FISH ON.”  It was lucky there were no other lines out and only one downrigger wire. This fish came to the boat hot and had there been other gear would have tangled and possibly been lost. Bad luck for the fish, good for us.

So we had great catching for the first 10 or 15 minutes, then settled in for a morning of great fishing, the remainder of the time - great fishing, just short on strikes or catching. But Steve caught a nice king salmon,  has a fishing tale to tell his Army buddies when his leave is over and a memory to rely on when he goes overseas.