Anderson: Mich Mash — a midsummer fishing venture to Lake Michigan

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 2, 2014 - 6:52 PM

Midsummer pursuits on Lake Michigan begin with carp, then make way for salmon.


Left: Bobby McGraw, far left, and his grandfather, Bob Nasby, of the Twin Cities relaxed on Lake Michigan as the sun rose, waiting for salmon or trout to strike their lures.


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– The chance we would catch fish standing in this Great Lake might have seemed slim to the casual observer. We, however, were quite hopeful. These were carp we were seeking, big ones, and on good days they maraud the shallow waters off Door County, the very waters we inhabited, with their pouty noses glommed to the bottom, looking for food.

Bobby McGraw stood a long cast from me, a picture of intensity beneath a sun visor, his fly rod cradled in his right hand like a six-gun. He’s a caster and he really want to loop some line into the air. He’s picked off carp here before, as has his grandfather, Bob Nasby, who watched over his own stretch of the big lake not far away, eyes peeled.

Poor man’s bonefishing is what this was. The Bahamas without the sand beaches. Also no Bob Marley, swaying palms, atolls, jerk chicken, skiffs on the morning tide or mojitos in tall glasses.

The bummer right now: no sun, either.

We needed the sun.

All this was a few days ago, and Bob, Bobby and I had watched the weather forecast intently in the run-up to our trip from the Twin Cities. Sun and south winds were what we wanted ... needed, actually. Carp won’t swim onto Door County’s watery flats in a north wind. And without sufficient sun, we wouldn’t be able to distinguish their depth-charge-like silhouettes as they slithered against the light-colored lake bottom.

“Three days straight, sun and south wind, five to seven miles an hour,” Bob had advised during our drive from the Twin Cities the night before. “That’s the forecast.”

Now here we were, midmorning, surrounded by water, no one else in sight.

Ahead, only blue, to the horizon and beyond.

But the sky hung low and steel-gray. And the wind was from the south. But it wasn’t 5 to 7. More like 15 to 17.

“I’m having trouble seeing,” I yelled to Bobby. “The weatherman’s a liar.”

“I can’t see at all,” Bobby said.

Along the shore, zebra and quagga mussel shells drifted like snow. Deep enough to be shoveled, the casings nearest the lake ebbed and flowed, caught up in waves that collapsed, remade themselves and collapsed again.

In time, Bobby and I met up with Bob. Each of us had waist packs, and in them, peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Tucking our rods beneath our arms, we ate the sandwiches and considered our predicament.

In the distance, the lake rose up in whitecaps.

“We can live with the wind,” Bob said.

“Not the clouds,” Bobby said.

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