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 18, 2015


There are five species of salmon and trout in Lake Michigan. They are coho and king salmon, brown trout and steelhead trout and Lake Michigan’s native trout, the lake trout.  Catching all five in a given period of time is called getting the Grand Slam.

Long ago friends and I caught a one-day Grand Slam 
Indiana’s Salmon Unlimited club used to hand out patches to anglers who caught one of each species during a whole season. Occasionally, a lucky group of anglers get a Grand Slam on the same boat in one day.  I’ve never heard of one individual catching all five species in one day but it’s probably happened, sometime, somewhere.

On the Brother Nature I’ve had numerous “mini-slams” catching four of the five species on one outing but only once has the crew on the “Bro” produced a fully fledged Grand Slam on one day.

While was looking back to my fishing trips in the first half of September, I realized I’d achieved a September Slam!  On Labor Day, my fishermen’s catch included a coho salmon, king salmon and a lake trout.  The king was where it was supposed to be, just off the mouth of the river. Given the time of year, that’s not where the coho and laker should have been found. This highlights the fact you never know what could bite next anytime, anyplace.

King salmon are the usual catch in September
Several days later, in addition to the kings (which are the target species in September) caught on the Brother Nature, the second fish of the day was a brown trout! And not just any brown trout, but a fourteen pound brown, easily among the five top largest browns on my boat, ever.

Yesterday, just as the sun was brightening the morning sky one of the rods came alive and eighty-four year old, birthday boy, Stan Jones, eventually subdued a spunky steelhead hooked in only twelve feet of water.  It dawned on me that made all five species caught in just a couple of late summer weeks.  The September Slam!  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


It started with a message on my answering machine. “Hi, I’m Drew. My wife and I along with my three year old and one and a half year old are coming up to the Indiana Dunes for a few days next week and we’d like to go on a fishing charter. With the little ones on board, I’m sure we won’t be able to do a full length, five or six hour trip. Can we go out for an hour or hour and a half?”
My first thought was to just call him back and tell him to forget it. Even if he offered to pay for a full length trip and then only fish for a short time, I’d feel bad about doing that to him. Then I came up with a plan that worked out just fine.

I was scheduled for a morning charter on Monday, the trip ru
nning 5 AM to 11 AM. I’d already have hauled the boat to the lake, the boat would be in the water, another hour or two wouldn’t make much difference to me and would give Drew and his family another adventure on their trip to Northwest Indiana.

Since I seldom get back to the marina exactly on time, I called Drew and set our departure for noon. We agreed on a pro-rated price for a short trip and all was set.

Except for lifejackets! I carry lifejackets suitable for youths up to 90 pounds but not for toddlers.

Then I remembered the Portage Public Marina is one of almost 600 marinas around the country  signed onto the BoatUS Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Program. One of the program's goals is to educate boaters on the significance of wearing the appropriate size and type of life jacket while boating. Another is to make sure a day of boating isn't spoiled just because a family forgot a life jacket at home. And finally, the most important goal: simply to keep kids safe out on the water!

When Drew and Susan arrived, I directed them to the marina office and in a few minutes both Will and Evelyn were decked out in appropriately-sized PFDs.  No charge. The program is funded by donations from the more than half a million members of BoatUS and the general public.

It was a fun trip. Without enough time to run offshore to the area I fished in the morning, we gave a little shot at finding some nearshore steelhead. The youngsters generally enjoyed the trip, I know mom and dad did. In a couple years when Will is a little older, perhaps I’ll take them out on a “real” fishing trip.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


  Shad Raps in the long established FireTiger color as well as the chartreuse/silver have accounted for many, many salmon on my boat. Still, those are not normally the best colors to attract cohos most days.

   Their favorite color of lure to bite is a fluorescent red with black stripes or dots. Rapala’s Shad Rap’s new “Demon” color, though patterned to look somewhat like a crawdad, is basically fluorescent red with black stripes.
  So I purchased a few of the the Shad Rap Demons to test against the tried and true coho lures in my tackle box.  

  Unscientific, for sure, but I matched the new lure up against five of my old standards, all fished the same way at the same time. Though the test was small scale, I hypothesized if the Demon caught one-sixth of the fish, it was equal to the lures I usually employ. If it caught more than it’s share, it’s even better. More testing would be needed!

  The first day of the test I caught three fish on the “demon” which meant it latched onto a quarter of the fish caught - pretty good. The next time out I caught three more on it. Then the lure broke.

  One of the down sides of balsa-body lures is they are fragile, much more fragile than plastic lures. The Shad Rap is especially fragile at the tail end because it tapers to almost nothing. Cohos are especially hard on them because they tend to twist when netted so it’s not unusual for the trailing end of a Shad Rap to look a little battered and bent after tangling with several salmon. More than battered, this time the wire hanger snapped off.

  I mentioned this to Bob Ringer, PR guy for Rapala, and he said Rapala has a warrantee program, just download the form from the website and send it. I’d never heard of a lure coming with a warrantee, but I gave it a shot.

  A couple weeks later I got my broken lure back and a nice letter from Rapala explaining they warrant for shoddy workmanship or materials, not for durability. That’s understandable. If you want an unbreakable lure, use one made of steel. It probably won’t catch many fish, at least as not as many as a Shad Rap in similar conditions, but it could last a lifetime.
  Now if a lure company would only come with a warrantee or money-back guarantee for their product to catch fish every time they are used, I’d buy a dozen of them!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


   I’m lucky enough to have traveled and fished from the Arctic to the Tropics for fishes large and small. I loved all those trips and experiences.

   But the key word is experiences. It’s not all about the fishing. It’s the people you meet, the guides and the places you experience along with wetting your lines and reeling your fish that make a trip memorable.

   Many of my summer customers are attracted first to the Indiana Dunes State Park and somehow discover my charter-fishing service as something to try while in the area.

     I’ve been to “The Dunes” many times and have long realized they are one of Indiana’s natural treasures. I've never considered how they stacked up against natural treasures across the country when you consider they would be up against places like the Everglades, Rocky Mountains, Cascades, canyons, desert landscapes and others.

   A recent poll conducted by USA Today shows they stack up quite nicely, thank you, ranking #7 in comparison to the top parks in the country!  Number seven of 6000 parks in the running.

Beach pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park
   Way to go Indiana Dunes!

   If you are one of my customers coming to fish with me on Lake Michigan, consider making time on your journey to visit the Dunes. It’s only a few minutes away from the Portage Marina where I normally depart through the summer months.

    If you are a visitor to the Dunes, consider a fishing trip with me as a part of your experience. When you get back to the park you’ll have some fresh salmon or trout filets to grill up making your trip to this unique area even more special.    

Sunday, February 22, 2015


   I am a firm believer in “fishing hats.”  They don’t have to be adorned with flies and spinners like Colonel Blake wore in the TV Series, MASH.  They don’t have to have a stupid logo on them that proclaims the wearer to be a Master Baiter. But they do have to have plenty of Mojo.  Never underestimate the power of Mojo when it comes to a fishing hat.

  Other than Mojo, they need to have a couple of other features. A good fishing hat sports a brim to shield your eyes from the sun. A great fishing hat sports a brim that is dark-colored - preferably flat black in color - on the underside.  Hat color matters little other than in hot, sunny weather I choose lighter colors. As a matter of preference, my fishing hats are not camouflage. I have a hatrack full of camo caps, but those are for hunting, not fishing. If they have Mojo, it’s hunting Mojo, not fishing Mojo.

  Personally, I favor baseball style caps. Available nearly everywhere, if they were good enough to shield the eyes of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and other baseball greats, they are good enough for me. I’m not saying John Wayne’s Stetson, a Mexican sombrero or other head dress style wouldn’t be as good or better, but I’ll stick to a baseball cap.

  Regardless of the style, they have to fit well. I’m often offered hats from a variety of companies who dole them out as advertising fodder. I own some farmland so I get seed corn hats. I buy insurance so I get insurance company hats. I write outdoor blogs so I get hats from outdoor products companies. But anymore, when offered a new hat, I slap it on my noggin and if it doesn’t feel “right,” I just hand it back. Some hats land on your head feeling as broken-in as your best walking boots, others are like trying to cram a square peg into a round hole.
Because of the dark under-brim, the hat
on the right would be a better fishing hat. 

  But don’t overlook the Mojo.

  You can wear the best looking, best fitting hat on a fishing trip that was supposed to be next thing to fishing in a barrel and have the fishing fall flat. Immediately, if I’m wearing a new hat, it becomes suspect.

  On the other hand, if the trip goes better than you expected, admit it, the hat had the Mojo to put you over the top. So wear the same hat on the next trip and the next and don’t give up on it until it gives up on you.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


    In the biographical information I provided to NACO when I was put on the ballot to be considered for a seat on their Board of Directors I wrote:

In every group to which I’ve belonged, I always became active and involved. I guess by nature, I’m a leader, not a follower. I’ve held various offices in both the Hoosier Outdoor Writers and the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, including President and Chairman of the Board.  I’m a superviser of my local county’s soil and water conservation district. I’m on my local county’s extension board and am a past member of the county’s planning commission. I’ve served as President and am now executive secretary of Indiana’s North Coast Charter Association.

   NACO, the National Association of Charterboat Operators, was formed in 1991 and now includes a membership of thousands of owners or operators of fishing, sailing, diving, eco-tours, and other excursion vessels carrying passengers for hire. NACO’s objective is to improve the professional charter boat operator's bottom line and to provide a strong voice in Washington, DC.
   NACO is a membership driven association proven to be successful because of the shared experiences of the Board of Directors, Executive Team and Regular Membership. NACO’s officers and board members consist of experienced licensed captains, who are actively involved in their local areas.
   NACO was formed out of a need to fight costly government regulations that threatened to cripple the charter boat industry. The organization keeps track of issues affecting the industry and NACO officers and board members regularly represents charter operators before Congress and Regulatory Agencies. Over the years NACO has succeeded in saving charter boat operators millions of dollars and prevented excessive, time-consuming and needless reporting.
   As a new board member, I plan to lurk in the background initially, assessing the personalities and learning the inner workings of the group. As time progresses, no doubt I'll become more involved and a better representative for charter boat operators in the Great Lakes and elsewhere. 
   Any NACO members reading this who voted for me:  THANKS. The rest of you: WISH ME LUCK!