Friday, December 31, 2010

Houghton Lake Ice Fishing-Great Start for the New Year

Dead Stream Flooding by K Stephenson

As I passed the lake on my way into town yesterday I noticed more shanties than I have ever seen on the lake in the 8+ years I have been coming here. The early cold and the budding economic recovery I think are the determining factors. Or it could just be that the fishing is good. Whatever the reasons, it's a welcome sight. This season promises to be a very good start for the local economy with Tip Up Town coming in just a few more weeks (more on TUT soon) the . The theme Life's a Beach could be the cause for the unseasonably warm weather.

We're being hit by the heat wave here in Houghton Lake just like the rest of Michigan. Highs close to 40 Friday and Saturday with the temps dropping to the low 20's on Sunday. I don't believe this will affect the lake too much for fishing BUT it could cause cracks and shifting ice which can make traveling across the ice dangerous. Especially on a snowmobile or SUV traveling at a high rate of speed. Speaking of snowmobiling, the warm temps are melting the snow at a fast rate. We only had maybe 5 inches on the ground and by Saturday there won't be any snow to speak of. Weather forecasts do not bode well for an addition of snow over the next 5 days. So keep your fingers crossed.

For more information about Houghton Lake fishing go to Houghton Lake Fishing.

I will report more soon including Tip Up Town USA info.

Stay safe, Stay warm and Happy New Year,


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Houghton Lake Ice Fishing on Christmas, Why Not


As I rode around Houghton Lake today (today being Christmas day) I noticed some angers on the ice. Possibly trying out some new ice fishing equipment. The lake hasn't become dotted with fishing shanties yet, but that's not far off. As word of the ice being at least as much as 6 inches thick in some areas, more and more of the small wooden shacks will be showing up on the lake.

Korbinski's Marine and Lymans On The Lake both have shanties for rent already placed on the lake. Give them a call and check for availability.

Well I'm on my way to a friends place for dinner.

Stay warm, stay safe and stay jolly,

Ken S.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Houghton Lake Ice Fishing or Baby It's Cold Outside

North Bay Houghton Lake  
Photo by K. Stephenson

Ice fishing. The words bring a chill to my very bones. Seriously. I have memories from my childhood (I was ten) of sitting on a plastic bucket, next to a hole in the ice, the sweat from cranking the auger turning to ice on my skin. I would get up and wrap my numb fingers around the auger crank handle and start a new whole just to get warm. I didn't have to finish the hole, just crank long enough to generate some body heat. 

My father, having discovered the ice was 14 inches thick, had returned to the parking lot to get the car and drive it out onto the lake (like everyone else had already done) so we could sit in the car and stay warm while waiting for that little red cloth flag to "tip up" and let us know there was a fish on the other end. After thirty minutes in the car, my hands were able to let go of the auger handle. Suffice it to say I was miserable. I never went ice fishing again.

Today there's an easy solution to staying warm on the ice. Dress appropriately for the temperature. Always expect the temp to be 10-20 degrees colder than the weatherman says. Dress in layers, if your too warm you can always take something off. Finally there a whole bunch of different light weight portable Ice Fishing Shanties on the market suitable in size for one to six persons. Prices range from $50-$600 depending on size and comfort. The smallest folds into a backpack and the larger ones come with a hard floor that doubles as a sled for transport across the ice. Amazon has an excellent variety at great prices you can see them here. Check quickly some have only a few left in stock.

Dead Stream Flooding (Reedsburg Dam)
Photo by K. Stephenson

It's that time of year again. Winter has come in hard and fast with temperatures well below freezing. The lake has had ice on the surface for about ten days now. BUT that does not mean the ice is thick enough to be safe. Every year since I moved here, I hear about someone falling through the ice because it's not safe yet. Most of the time it's just a leg but once in awhile tragedy strikes. I have seen an SUV about 50 feet from shore with just the roof sticking out of the ice. A rule of thumb that I use is to check with the local bait shops, Lymans on the Lake or Korbinskis or call the DNR to find out if the ice is safe yet. 

Still most people come up, see someone else is on the lake and decide it must be safe. It was just a few years ago when a group of people drove out on the lake and set up next to each other. It didn't take long before the weight of the people and their vehicles cracked the ice. They barely made it back to shore in time. About two years back a couple of winter anglers were fishing on Higgins Lake when the ice around their brand new pick truck cracked and the truck started tipping sideways. One fisherman made it off the ice right away, the other was in the truck and had to crawl out the window when he couldn't open the door. He made it out of the truck just before it slid into the lake.

The owner ended up with a waterlogged truck and a bill for pulling it out of the lake. It could have been worse but it was still an expensive lesson. Automobile insurance doesn't cover you on the lake.

Tip Up Town badges are available at local area businesses for $6.00. More TUT later.

Again if your interested in a portable Ice Fishing Shanty from Amazon click here.

Until next time...

Stay warm, Stay safe and Stay dry,


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Get Out Your Smokepole, 2010 Muzzleloader Season Is Almost Here

Breakout the smokepole it's nearly that time again.  For some the muzzle loading deer season is just another chance to bag that big one that was spotted the day after the regular season ended. For others it's a chance to test ones skill with, what some consider, an archaic if not ancient form of firearm. Yet many others embrace the history and will even dress the part of a hunter or mountain man from days gone by, to relive the experiences of our ancestors. When a  misfire (due to wet powder) or a missed shot, could mean going hungry for a long time, reducing their chances for survival.

If your going to be hunting with a muzzleloader and you haven't used it recently (maybe not since last year) it would be a good idea to give it at least a quick cleaning. Keeping your firearm clean will not only keep it in optimal condition but it just plain shoots better when there's no build up of left over residue or unburned powder, and the barrel has been seasoned with lubricant. Prelubed patches are easier than trying to squeeze bore butter from a tube, evenly over a patch. Can be very messy.

This is not an endorsement for CVA cleaning products although I am sure they are of good quality. I just wanted to show the ease of cleaning today's muzzleloader rifles.

Muzzle loading season for deer in zone 2 (Roscommon county is in zone 2) is from December 10-19, 2010. For more information go to the Michigan DNRE.

That's it for now so...

Stay safe, stay warm and keep your powder dry,


Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks On Thanksgiving In Houghton Lake

The time of the harvest is complete for another year. The deer season is almost at an end. My pond hopper 2 man boat is waiting to be put away until spring. A light dusting of snow warns us of what is soon to come. It's Thanksgiving, a time for gathering together with family and friends to indulge ourselves in the bounty of our mother earth and to give thanks for what we have.
I have almost everything I need and I want for very little. I am thankful for the kindness that others have shown me. I am thankful for family and friends who overlook my faults and love me unconditionally. I thank my maker for my reasonably good health and the talents and gifts that I have been blessed with.  I am thankful for the good fishing I have had this season. I am thankful for this home.
I'll be writing soon about Tip Up Town USA. The snowmobile season is almost upon us. Sledding and cross country skiing and of course, ice fishing. I'm also thankful for my 1 follower, thanks Mike.

Also a special prayer for my niece Lisa.

Until next time, stay safe, stay warm, stay well,

Ken Stephenson

Monday, November 22, 2010

Houghton Lake Fishing Report-Reedsburg Dam Pt 2

Dead Stream by Reedsburg Dam

Hi Again
It was a beautiful day here in Houghton Lake, with temperatures close to 60 degrees. So I took advantage and went fishing. I jumped into the Ford Explorer and headed west along M-55. My first stop was Lymans on the Lake bait shop to get some live shiners. Now what I call shiners are called "blues" by the folks at Lymans. Their a bit larger than minnows. I was after Northern Pike today. As I mentioned in my previous post the Pike are biting at Reedsburg Dam (on the riverside west bank). I arrived at my destination around 11:00. Once I made it down the hill and had my folding chair setup, and after several tries to get a blue on my hook, I was ready to fish.

With my brand new orange, weighted styrofoam bobber made for using in foam covered waters, I cast my line to where I thought the big ones would be waiting. I expertly dropped the bait just this side of the fast moving current. The bobber no more than hit the water and it disappeared under the foam. Like any good angler I  gave the pole the required jerk back and up over my head. After all I was after the big one and I needed to be sure the hook was set. But there was no tension in the line. Still my boober was gone. I heaved back again expecting the pull and jerk of the hooked fish. Nothing. Then I realized I had forgot to reset the bail on reel after I had made my cast. The strike had been so quick I forgot to give the reel a crank. So instead of setting the hook I had paid out an extra twenty feet of line.

I figured the fish was long gone or had swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker (maybe even my brand new orange weighted styrofoam bobber made for using in foam covered water). And was happily sitting under some rock and laughing at me (if it is possible for a fish to laugh). I began reeling in line until I had taken up the slack and gave the pole an easy flick. Bam! The pole came alive as the Pike on the other end decided to make a fight of it.

Now I don't usually go for Northern Pike. I go after Walleye, Perch, Sunfish, Bluegill and Bass. Just whatever happens to be biting where I wet my line. But this is the first time catching Pike in a river. Not only do you have to work the fish to the shore but also guide it around the rocks. All told I caught 5 Northern Pike, 3 were of legal size (24"), the other two were only about 20" long. There was a sixth one but I only had him for about 5 seconds and my line broke, setting my brand new orange, weighted styrofoam bobber made for using in foam covered water, free to float around the currents. It did eventually make it's way to shore so I was able to retrieve it. Hey, it's not the money (approximately .70 cents) it's the principal of the thing.

Until next time, stay safe, stay dry and hang on to your bobber.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Santa Has Arrived at the Houghton Lake Playhouse

It's a cold fall day here so the jolly old elf and his entourage should feel right at home. The parking lot at the Houghton Lake Historical Playhouse was over flowing with cars, trucks and suv's as children and parents came to welcome Santa and Mrs Claus. The big guy promised yours truly a new "lucky" fishing hat and a warm pair of hunting socks. Often being mistaken for the man himself, I vow once again to start my diet and lose weight (after the New Year or possibly the Superbowl).

Santa encourages everyone to give a donation to Toys for Tots and Project Hope to help the less fortunate this holiday season.

And so...with a ho ho ho...I must go...peace.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Santa Comes to Houghton Lake Playhouse Sunday

Santa Claus is coming to town!!!

To the Houghton Lake Historical Playhouse to be exact. Houghton Lakes Merchant Association will be having it's annual Santas Workshop this sunday Nov 21 from 10am to 4 pm. Admission is free. Children can visit and get their picture taken with Santa. Also Mrs. Claus, Rudolph and friends and much more entertainment including crafts and face painting.

Also there will be donation drop boxes for Project Hope and Toys For Tots.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Houghton Lake Fishing Report-Reedsburg Dam

Reedsburg Dam 

I have been fishing by Reedsburg dam (off of county 300, north of M-55), fishing on the stream side of the dam. The eastside (the side with the stairs) has Perch hitting on nightcrawlers. The east bank (where all of the big rocks are) has the big ones. Just hooked a large Pike a couple of days ago. Of course the leader to my jighead broke before I could get it to the shore. What a fight. He won the first round, but round two is coming up soon. If your fishing with youngsters this could be a good place to try. Right now fish are hitting all day but morning (too cold for me) and 2 hours before sunset seem to be best times.

Theres also one of the best state campgrounds in the area right there at the dam. Actually one of the best in Michigan if you don't mind rustic camping (gotta love those vault toilets on a hot summer day). So if you have a hankering to go a campin' and a fishin', this is a great place to do it.

Just a quick note. The fish are mostly hitting on minnows and large shiners right now. I've caught some decent size Perch with nightcrawlers but for the big ones THINK SHINY MINNOWS. For the big ones stay just on edge of the mainstream towards the dam. Use a bobber about 12-16 inches above the bait. You can fish the bottom but you'll probably get caught in between the rocks and lose your rig. Also use a large bright bobber. The red and white ones are hard to see in the foam.

Until next time, keep warm, keep safe and keep fishing,
Ken Stephenson

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 Firearm Deer Season Starts With A Bang

Althought the bow season for deer began on October 1st, the most anticipated is the firearm season which begins on November 15th. The number of hunting licenses purchased this year have been reported as down from previous years. Several factors have ben attributed to the slow sales with the primary reasons being the slow economy and opening day being on monday this year.
Still the first day here in Roscommon county found many a buck hanging from local buck poles.

Buckpole at Freds Of Roscommon

 As the weather cooperated though not to the extent some would wish. With the temperature around 32 degrees there were reports of a light dusting of snow in some areas that quickly melted. A few inches of snow on the ground are preferable for tracking movement of game. Also blood trails standout in the white snow making it easier to locate the deer after the shot has been taken.
So a little cold, a little damp and a lot of fresh air, what more could you want. Maybe a 14 pointer?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Autumn in Michigan

I love the fall season in Michigan. So many good things happen in the fall. The dog days of summer gradually slip away and the trees begin their symphony of red, gold, orange, yellow and burgundy colors. The fall colors in northern Michigan usually peak around the middle of October but start turning around the end of September.
Backus Creek E of M18

Several of my favorite holidays arrive in the fall. First Halloween, then Thanksgiving (let the shopping begin). Soon after Christmas arrives with all of the decorations and of course the snow.

Fall signals the start of football, basketball and hockey. It also means the beginning of several hunting seasons including fall Turkey, Waterfowl, Squirrel and Deer bow season on the first of October. There is still good fishing and the DNRE doesn't pull the boat launch docks until the end of October on the big lakes. The small lakes remain acessable by boat until the snow flies and the ice starts to form.

I once heard of an angler who was fishing on Backus Lake when a cold front came through and flash froze the lake. His boat was stuck in the ice and couldn't be moved. He didn't want to leave his boat behind, so he built a shanty over his boat and waited until the spring thaw. Until next time.

Take Care,


FYI: Gun and Knife Show at Houghton Lake Playhouse Oct 30

I read about this in the Houghton Lake Resorter (local area newspaper). There will be a Gun and Knife Show at the Houghton Lake Playhouse on M-55 in Prudenville (next to the Historic Village). Show will be from 9-4 on saturday October 30. For more info call 989-686-6535. Admission is $5 for adults, $1 for children 14 and under.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Welcome to Houghton Lake Michigan

The Houghton Lake area has nearly everything that the outdoor enthusiast could want. Starting with a 20,000 acre all sports lake surounded by 30 miles of lakeshore. Close by are Higgins lake (with a max depth of 130 feet) to the north, Lake St James to the south, Lake St Helen to the east and Dead Stream Flooding to the west.  In addition to the big lakes there are several floodings and smaller lakes with access for small boats.  With many of the most popular fish species: Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Perch, Bluegill and Crappie, to name a few.
Campgrounds ranging from rustic to full ammenities. Canoeing and kayaking on the Cut river and the Muskeegon river with the Ausable river just 20 miles to the north, the starting point for the Annual Ausable Canoe race, which brings racers from across the country to compete.

And thousands of acres of public land for the best hunting in the country with camping allowed in most areas with permisiion from the DRNE (Department of Natural Resources and Environment). With plenty of trails for hiking and spotting wildlife.
Lots of ORV (Off Road Vehicle) trails for quad runners and snowmobiles.

Of course we have many motels and cabins, ranging from cozy to plush, for those who do not wish to "rough it" in a trailer or tent.

Restaurants in Houghton Lake are some of the best in the state. From home cooked meals to steaks to pizza (we have several top pizza restaurants). We even have an authentic mexican foods restaurant.

I will cover all of these in future posts.

So if you want to know whats happening in Houghton Lake. Just check out my blog.

So for now, take care,