For the fourth of July, I decided to head up to Michigan. I go up there a few times a year to spend time with family. The summers are enjoyable, relaxing and I can’t think of a better place to be spending time with family.
This year the big plan was to get out on Lake Michigan and do a little fishing. My dad had been talking about chasing King Salmon for years. He’d planned this trip in his mind a long time. I wanted to make it everything he expected. There was going to be a great boat, a good captain. It was going to be a memorable journey for both of us.
My dad’s passion for Salmon fishing started 30 years ago. I recall once he came home with a single Salmon. He was proud. I can clearly see the look on his face, the puff of his chest. He, of course, had an ever evolving story to go with the catch. Over time, that fish has grown to 6’ and weighed up to 150 pounds. For years, he reiterated the details of that trip, the wrestling match to defeat that fish, the pity it was I wasn’t there, on and on…
We always talked about taking that trip. For too long. These things happen unfortunately. I decided it was time. Long overdue, but time. I was going home with the explicit intent of going Salmon fishing with my dad. I’d never been before and I was looking forward to the experience. Tough fighters, great sport — and great eating! I was ready to go.
I was prepared to put out whatever it cost without going nuts. Through a friend, I hooked up with Riverside Charters out of Manistee, Michigan. I booked a boat with them, a first class 38’ Tiara. It was comfortable, sporty and awesome enough to impress my mom without her grunting about how much I’d spent. Captain Paul would be in charge with a great crew. As it was perfect for four, I decided to up the ante, optimize our catch potential. So I added a few more ‘pros’ to the list, my niece, Taylor, and good ol’ Mom.
At five a.m. that July 4th, we’re moving down the water, heading for Lake Michigan’s mouth. It’s still dark. There are a few other boats on the water, making their own early departure. I’d tell you how alert anyone else was but I was still pretty groggy. It hadn’t weathered my anticipation but I was yawning a little more than I’d liked. I can tell you Dad did nothing except check and recheck the fishing gear. Watching him, I felt this was going to be worth every penny.
The captain and his first mate prepped lines and had gotten all the tackle ready before we’d even arrived. I thought that was pretty impressive. We got a few miles out and a put a couple of lines in the water.
I’m telling you, it wasn’t minutes before — BAM! — it started.
One line goes down. Dad’s all over it before I can even sit up. He’s reeling, a priceless grimacing grin all over his face. He was having the time of his life, but it was obviously something he hadn’t done in a while. I tried to help him out but it got away. Still, it was a great start to the day.It was the warm-up. Everyone was alert and ready. I got an idea of how tough this pastime could be. A couple got away, but we managed to put together a nice collection.
Believe it or not, at one point, all four rods had a bite. There we were, the four of us, on the front lines. My dad ended up blistering his hand. I was soaked with sweat. Mom ended up retiring after a few catches. Taylor did her best to hang tough with these hilarious tactics that used her knees.
We finished with our limit of King Salmon. We returned to the dock. As we unloaded, I can’t tell you how happy to be on this trip. Can’t tell you much I wanted to go back out. The fish were cleaned, packed and loaded. One hundred pounds of fillets later we were heading home.
Driving back, I thought it was a great experience. Definitely one my Dad was never going to forget. I also knew it wouldn’t be another 30 years before I take another awesome day like this with Dad and my family.