Friday, February 20, 2009

Houghton Lake Trip Day One

After months of planning the day finally came to head out on our first Up North Journal Team weekend outing. Somehow I let fellow Pro Staffer Chuck Parr talk me into sleeping on the ice out on Houghton Lake in the middle of Michigan's winter season. Chuck did this same trip last year and told me how much fun I would have and that I had to go this year and have a great time. So I let him plan this years trip and told him I would go along for the ride.
Chuck talked with Lyman's on the Lake about securing a sleeper shanty for the entire weekend. With Lyman's help we set up the date and began to make plans for the trip. We headed out on Friday morning at about 7:30am. It was Chuck, Mikey, Jake and myself with a truck and trailer full of fishing and camping supplies for three days of Michigan winter fun! We made our first real stop at Jay's Sporting Goods in Clare Michigan. We couldn't pass through Clare without stopping at Jay's. We bought a few more provisions for the trip and I had to finally pull Mikey and Chuck out of the store so we could be on our way.
Another hour on the road and we were pulling into Houghton Lake. We first had to stop at the local Wally World store to buy our food for the weekend. A basket full of hotdogs, beans, bacon, sausage, eggs and SPAM!!!! Yes I said, SPAM!!! and we were on our way to the ice! As we pulled up to Lyman's I could see shanty town out on the ice about 300 to 400 yards off shore. It was a beautiful clear blue sky day and the temps weren't too bad either. I thought to myself this is going to be fun! Chuck went in and took care of the reservations and I began to unload the trailer to get the atv out and hook up the small trailer to it. Then Chuck came back and one of the guys from Lyman's came out on a 6 wheeled atv with a huge trailer. We piled most of our gear onto his trailer and the rest in my little trailer. The boys and Chuck piled onto the trailer with all of our gear and I drove our atv out behind the 6 wheeled buggy onto the ice to our home for the weekend.

Mikey & Chuck Getting Ready For A Weekend Of Ice Fishing

As we pulled up I saw this huge box on the ice that we would call home for the weekend. It was about 8 x 20 and sitting right on the outter edge of shanty town. There must have been about 20 - 25 shanties out there and ours was the biggest! We unloaded our gear to the inside of the big box and then the guy (Dave) from Lyman's yelled to another guy on the ice to come over and help. This was the other helper from Lyman's. This second guy (Chip) grabbed a power ice auger off of the atv and went into the shanty and drilled four holes for us to fish through. Now we were all set to fish!

As we began to get our gear in order, we heard a snowmobile come to a stop just outside our door. Then there was a knock on the door with a voice saying, "DNR officer"! What did we do, I thought to myself. I opened the door and there stood an officer in his snowmobile suit and helmet. He asked us if we just arrived and how long we would be there. We told him and we began to pull out our fishing licneses. He told us no need to show him, that he just wanted us to know that he was on the ice if we needed his assistance. I told him that the atv had the appropriate stickers on it and he said, no worry on that either. He also commended us on bringing the boys out to enjoy the fishing as well. I was pleased at his attitude towards us, this was my first experience with a CO in the thirty plus years I have been participating in the outdoors.

After he left, it was then that I realized that I had forgotten that I needed a helmet for the atv out on the lake. I told Chuck I was headed back to town to purchase a couple of helmets for the atv. I couldn't believe I was so stupid and not remembering the helmet laws in Michigan.

After I got back from town, we watched a few nearby people pull out a few small pike from the ice on their tip ups. We got our power auger out and drilled 6 holes and put out some of our own tip ups then, we dropped two lines inside the shanty. We spent the rest of the day trying to catch some pike. We discussed venturing out to a different location to locate some fish, but we decided to wait until the next day to do this since it was getting late in the day.

Me Cooking Up Some Lunch In The Shanty

I fired up the stove and cooked some hot dogs and beans for lunch. The boys thought that this was pretty cool to cook inside of the shanty! I spent the next couple of hours reading a book that I had bought at Jay's on the way up. Nothing like sitting beside the heater fishing and reading a good book to pass the time.

As night began to set in, I new it was time to start thinking about dinner. I fired up the stove again and fried up a can of SPAM for all of us. SPAM sandwiches for the crew! The boys had never had a SPAM experience before, so this was their first time eating it. They thought it was SPAMtastic, Mikey said it was SPAMlicious! So with the SPAM and beans we were set for the night. We fished into the night until we all got tired. I think it was around 8pm when we began to turn in for the evening. We pulled the lines in except for Michael who kept fishing for another hour or so.

Jake Jiggin' For Some Pike!

I put Jake in the bunk above me and we turned up the heater for the evening. What we didn't realize was that the shanty was sitting up off of the ice about 8 inches. The wind blew underneath it and up into the ice fishing holes in the shanty. By about 4am it was getting pretty cold inside the shanty. I had to make sure and tuck in nice and tight to make it through the night. Mikey and Jake did ok since they were on the top two bunks, but Chuck and I didn't fare so well. We would change that the next day!

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