Over the past three years a small group of our friends travel from all across Michigan to the artsy fishing town of Saugatuck. Last year was one that none of us will forget.
The alarm goes off at 4:00 A.M.
After rolling out of bed and conducting the normal routine, I kiss the wife and boy before leaving the house. Gear was already gathered at the front door the night prior as to eliminate any sleepy forgetfulness.
After 40 minutes of face slapping to stay awake, Saugatuck is in sight. The streets are empty, except for the few zombified friends standing in the street. After finding a parking spot and greeting the welcoming party, I grab my dry bag, camera gear and cooler. At the boat, named Black Betty 2, most the friends were zoned out waiting for Captain Tone to finish loading up.
With the boat loaded up, morning pleasentries wrapped up, the boat pushes off down the calm canal towards Lake Michigan. The closer we get to the lake the more we feel the wavy remnants of the storm that pushed North a few hours earlier.
Clear of the canal’s no wake zone, Captain Tone pushes the throttle and the boat rises from the water. Everyone scans the sky looking for signs of the storm, but with the storm moving north and the south having nothing but blue skies, we felt safe. At least for now.
The first hour and half were fairly slow. We reeled in a few small lake trout but nothing to be overly excited about. Then about the two hour mark we had two large salmon on the lines. One weighed in at 25 lbs, and completely dwarfed any other fish that got tossed into the cooler. To be honest, it was the biggest fish I’d seen in a long time.
After the excitement of the giant salmon had subsided, Captain Tone got the rest of the poles ready as we moved further South along the coast. It was fairly calm for the next fifteen minutes until Captain Tone turned his head to the sky. About that time everyone on the boat felt the wind change 180º and sprinkles began to fall.
Lightening stabbed the horizon!
The storm that created a black dividing line in the sky was moving are way.
Captain Tone looked at the group, who were all sopping wet, and asked if we wanted to go in.
“Hell No”, everyone shouted.
We were at the halfway point of our trip by now, so we turned the boat around and got the reels ready to troll back towards Saugatuck. A few larger fish were caught on the way back, but the most amazing thing was being out on the water with such a large storm lingering overhead.
The rush felt with the rain, thunder, lightening, waves, and huge fish being reeled in was unbelievable. By time we got back to the canal the rain was gone and the storm had lifted. We unloaded our gear and Captain Tone put our fish on the trophy board.
It’s one thing to see all your fish on the board and relive the fight. However, when there is a touch of danger associated with catching that fish, the pride of the catch and surpassing the fear will live with you forever.