Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Houghton Lake Ice Report: Dec 2011

Houghton Lake Dec 26,2011 near Harveys Marina
So you want to know about the ice on Houghton Lake. Due to the incredibly mild winter so far the ice is a little behind on thickening enough to make it safe. Probably not what you wanted to hear.  Falling through the ice will at best ruin a day of fishing, at worst become a tragedy that could have been avoided by waiting until the ice has reached a safe thickness. Every year there's someone either fishing or riding a snowmobile who goes through the ice.

I have seen some anxious fishermen out in the East Bay off of the shallows near Harvey's Marina. Some are reporting ice as thick as 4" in some spots, BUT that doesn't mean the ice is safe. Sun, wind and shifting currents  beneath the ice can cause the ice to crack creating a hazardous condition.

Ice fishing can be fun and rewarding if you wait until the ice is thick enough and dress warm.

For information on the ice thickness check with:

DNR

Lymans on the Lake 989-422-3231

Korbinski's Marine   989-366-5306

Both Lymans & Korbinski's rent ice fishing shanties and won't put them on the ice until it's safe.

Stay safe,

Ken S

Tip Up Town USA 2012-Houghton Lake Ice Fishing Festival

Tip Up Town 2012

Tip Up Town USA is the largest winter festival in Michigan and one of the largest throughout the country. With many attractions, activities and contests to delight young and old. There's truly something for the whole family. Tip Up Town is Friday, Saturday & Sunday over two weekends. Fridays are Family Ice Skating and Hot Dogs and Entertainment in the Beverage Tent, with the bulk of the activities happening on Saturday and Sunday (for schedule of events see below).

Elections for Tip Up Town Mayor, Grand Marshall and TUT Queen will be held on January 7,2012 at the Houghton Lake High school gym. As always all are invited to come and enjoy the fun as "political parties" attempt to convince the electorate through speeches and a talent show, that they deserve the dubious distinction of being elected to the offices of Mayor and Grand Marshall.

Tip Up Town badges will be $6 again this year and may be purchased at many stores and shops around Houghton Lake or at the entrance to Tip Town at the south DNR boat launch. Badges grant entry into many of the attractions, shows and rides, although some do require an extra fee (click below for more info). The Grand Marshall will be checking for badges and all persons found at the festival without a badge will be placed in TUT jail until someone "bails" them out by purchasing a badge.

Parking is at the Houghton Lake High school with free shuttle service to and from the festival.

Tip Up Town USA, 2012. The most fun you can have on a frozen lake in the middle of winter. Hope to see you there.

For more info CLICK HERE

Saturday, January 21Saturday, January 21
NOON
1:00pm
2:00pm
3:00pm
4:00pm
Medallion Hunt
Egg Toss
Cracker Whistle
Pie Eating Contest
Tug-of-War
12:30
1:30pm
2:30pm
3:30pm
Tire Roll
Redneck Golf
Bubblegum/Hula Hoop
Make a Head of Hair
NOON
12:30-1:30
1:30-2:30
2:30-3:30
3:30-4:30
4:30-5:30
Opening Ceremony
Peanut Butter ‘N Jams
Fun & Games With Diversity Entertainment
Doggie Show
Carrie Westbay
Fun & Games with Diversity Entertainment
Sunday, January 22Sunday, January 22
NOON
1:00pm
2:00pm
3:00pm
4:00pm
Medallion Hunt
Egg Toss
Cracker Whistle
Pie Eating Contest
Tug-of-War
12:30
1:30pm
2:30pm
3:30pm
Tire Roll
Redneck Golf
Bubblegum/Hula Hoop
Make a Head of Hair
10:00-11:00
12:00-1:00
1:00-2:00
2:00-3:00
3:00-4:00
4:00
Church Service
Fun & Games with Diversity Entertainment
Tom McDermott, Guitarist
Fun & Games with Diversity Entertainment
Joel Tacey, Tip Top Entertainment
Grand Prize Drawing
Saturday, January 28Saturday, January 28
NOON
1:00pm
2:00pm
3:00pm
4:00pm
Medallion Hunt
Egg Toss
Cracker Whistle/Bubblegum
Pie Eating Contest
Tug-of-War
12:30
1:30pm
2:30pm

3:30pm
Tire Roll
Redneck Golf
Brother of the Bush/Most Badges
Make a Head of Hair
12:00-1:00
1:00-2:00
2:00-2:30
2:30-3:30
3:30-4:00
4:00-5:00
5:00-5:30
Fun & Games with Diversity Entertainment
Mean Mary, Banjo Artist
Fun & Games With Diversity Entertainment
Acting Up Theatre Company
Fun & Games With Diversity Entertainment
Carrie Westbay, Singer
Fun & Games With Diversity Entertainment
Sunday, January 29Sunday, January 29
NOON
1:00pm
2:00pm
3:00pm
4:00pm
Medallion Hunt
Egg Toss
Cracker Whistle
Pie Eating Contest
Tug-of-War
12:30
1:30pm
2:30pm
3:30pm
Tire Roll
Redneck Golf
Bubblegum/Hula Hoop
Make a Head of Hair
10:00-11:00
12:00-1:00
1:00-2:00
2:00-4:00
4:00
Church Service
Fun & Games with Diversity Entertainment
A.R.K.
Fun & Games with Diversity Entertainment
Grand Prize Drawing

Friday, October 7, 2011

Houghton Lake Gun & Knife Show Oct. 8

Just a quick note. There's a Gun and Knife Show scheduled for Sat, Oct 8 at the Playhouse on M55 in Houghton Lake. Listed hours are 9-4. This is a one day show.

See ya there,

K Stephenson

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bud Bash the "Jobbie Nooner" of the North

Love it or hate it here comes
 Bud Bash 2011

Bud Bash, Houghton Lake
Bud Bash in Houghton Lake, MI has been thought of by many as the "Jobbie Nooner" of the north. While the Jobbie Nooner (held on Gull Island, Lake St Clair), is in the early part of summer when the temperatures are milder, Bud Bash is held in August, during the hottest days of summer. A time when tourism seems to slow in Houghton Lake as people go on vacation to other parts.

So it was that the owner of the Limberlost bar and grill decided to hold a "party" that would increase business during this down time. And Bud Bash was born.

Some of the locals are not as enthusiastic about the celebration as the others who come here looking for a good time in the sun and water. Drunkenness and public nudity are often sited by local authorities although the number of incidents have fallen the last few years. Possibly due to the extra law enforcement   officers patrolling during the festivities.  

Jobbie Nooner at Gull Island, Lake St Clair
The partying was somewhat subdued at Gull Island on Lake St Clair this year as thousands braved the 70 degree temperatures and constant drizzle to attended the annual Jobbie Nooner. Estimates of 7000 to 10,000 people braved the chilly temperatures and the all day drizzle.

This years Bud Bash is August 6th. Though many celebrate over the whole weekend. Motel accommodations fill up fast so reserve early.

Stay safe and have fun,

Ken S

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fishing the Cut River Part 2: Rock Bass

.

Scenic Cut River North of Lansing Rd Bridge
Most of the time I fish alone, primarily because I fish almost everyday. I enjoy the solitude it helps me to forget my cares for awhile. I'm not on a quest to capture the great white whale or the big green walleye or monster bass (although I am happy to catch one occasionally). I just like to relax.

Sometimes I have the pleasure of fishing with a friend or family member and this weekend was one such occasion. My nephew and his family were dropping off my brothers motor home after spending the week camping over near Oscoda. Since they were spending the night we all went to dinner at a very crowded Freds of Roscommon and with about 2 hours of daylight left we thought we'd try to catch a few.

My brother Bill stayed home (he prefers to fish from a boat) with my nephews oldest daughter Sarah (she wanted to Facebook with her friends) but my sister-in-law Cheryl came with us. So we were Dan, Jess, Katie and Ryan, Cheryl (just an observer) and myself. Five of us fishing on the Cut River off the Lansing road bridge.

We turned east on scenic Lansing Road. As we left the asphalt I slowed for a doe and her two spotted fawns that were slowly crossing the road. These were the first fawns I have seen this year and they were already getting big. Unfortunately they scampered into the woods before I could get my camera out for a picture.
Katie catches Rock Bass...Priceless

There was another fisherman there when we arrived. After about 10 minutes he left and we had the bridge to ourselves. I started fishing off the north side but soon decided that 5 of us on the same side was at least one too many so I switched. Now I know there are fish on each side of the bridge that's why I brought them there. Still by the time I had caught my fourth fish everyone was on the south side. So I switched back to the north side.

Ryan catches the biggest Rock Bass
Fishing the north side is a little more tedious because your casting into the current coming at you. You have to keep your line tight or you'll try to set the hook and get nothing but air (believe me I'm a pro at catching air) and you recast often. If you like casting this is the way to go.

After awhile everyone caught at least a couple, mostly Rock bass, a few Perch and one we don't know what type of fish it was. I believe Ryan caught the biggest but Katie had the biggest "one that got away". We saw a doe with two fawns, another deer, a rabbit, a snake and a chipmunk (that was probably running from the snake). A bat flew over head but I think I'm the only one who saw it.
Dan & Cheryl looking for
the bobber in the tree

Cheryl (my sister-in-law) at Katies insistence had try at least one cast. It was a magnificent looping cast that went right into a tree. The bobber will be hanging like a red and white Christmas ornament for generations to come. Eventually darkness and the mosquitoes won out and we packed up and I came home.

Although I enjoy the solitude of fishing alone in a secluded spot nothing can replace putting a worm on the hook for a young angler or taking the fish off for them. Watching them reel in a few even if they're small. I believe in keeping the experience as fun as possible if we're going to keep the tradition alive and passed down to the next generation. One thing I know for sure is that the next generation will be able to look up into the tree by the river and know that my sister-in-law had been there and needed to work on her aim when casting.

All in all it was a great experience and a lot of fun. So take a family member or a friend fishing and don't forget the FUN


Until next time,


Ken S


PS Pictures were taken by Jess and as you can see it was light out still when we started and dusk when we started catching the fish.

(Rock Bass)
"Thank You Houghton Lake...We Love You"

Friday, July 15, 2011

He stole my bait!


That's him officer. The one on the left. He stole from me repeatedly. Every spot I tried, he was there. Sometimes taunting me by popping his head up next to my bobber just defying me to try again. HE STOLE MY BAIT!

Children find turtles to be cute and fun to catch but I beg to differ. At least on the second part. Catching a turtle can be a real pain in the hook. Usually they just get the bait and then wait for more. Sometimes I get the hook in them and get them to the shore. Once there I slacken the line and the turtle can use its front feet to dislodge the hook, then go back and wait for more bait. But once in awhile the hook goes all the way through then the trouble begins.

A midst the cursing of my bad luck and fishing through my tackle box for my needle nose pliers, I prepare myself for the difficult task of removing the hook from a mouth pulled inside a shell. I feel sorry for the turtle as this is unfair punishment for something as petty as stealing a piece of night crawler. Yet I believe that leaving the hook in would be a death sentence for the turtle. So a few seconds of prying and the perpetrator goes free albeit with a sore mouth. And I end up with an unusable jighead. Just another day of pond fishing.

Brand new jighead after removed from turtle
So the next time your sitting by the shore of your favorite fishing hole and your bobber is bouncing up and down and swimming around and you can't seem to set the hook. It may be a turtle. You need to ask yourself, "Do you feel lucky?" If not maybe you should try another fishing spot or get the pliers ready. Either way you could be in for a frustrating day. Unless you like turtle soup.

Good luck and be safe,

Ken S

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ausable River Canoe Marathon Race 2011-Grayling Michigan

64th Annual Ausable River 
Canoe Marathon
July 26-31, 2011

The longest professional canoe marathon race in the world. A grueling 120 miles from Grayling to Oscoda. There are several days with various events leading up to the race. The actual race begins at 9pm on Friday, July 29. The racers pick up their canoe and sprint 3 blocks to the river and jockey to get their canoe in the water for the 14-15 hour marathon race to Oscoda. A true test of endurance. 

Start of Race
Then there's the Mio Dam where racers carry their canoe up and down a hill, 1/4 mile to the other side of the dam. The first racers will reach the dam at 1am, others, not until dawn. 

Mio Dam
Some spectators follow the racers watching them at certain points where they are visible (the Mio Dam is a favorite). There's even a spectator guide available at the Ausable River Canoe Marathon website.

New this year is the Dash for Cash on Tuesday the 26th. Starting at 3pm teams can make a dash along a 1/4 mile stretch for a $5000 cash pool. The first place prize is $400.

Andy Triebold will try for his fifth straight 1st place finish and fourth in a row with current partner Steve Lajoie. Go team.

For more information go to the Ausable River Canoe Marathon website.

If you have ever wanted to try canoeing or kayaking, Grayling is the place. Whether you want to take a leisurely ride or an over-niter, there are numerous rental places that can accomodate you.

So if your in the Houghton Lake area at the end of the month and you want to see something different, check out the Ausable Canoe Race Marathon in Grayling.

See you there,

Ken S

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Firemens Memorial Festival 2011 Roscommon Michigan

31st Annual Michigan Firemens Festival
at The Fire Training Grounds 
September 15-18, 2010

Wow, this is such a fabulous festival dedicated to our firemen. With courage and special training they pit themselves against one of the most dangerous and destructive forces. They come from all over Michigan and across the nation to remember those who have given so much, at this annual festival. The public is welcome to come and join the celebration and have some fun while learning fire safety. Admission and parking are free.



Thursday night is Family Night. There will be craft projects and a fire safety trailer for the kids with free hot dogs and pop at 5pm and a magician at 7pm.

 Friday, Saturday and Sunday are full of activities, demonstrations and displays for adults and kids. Adult beverage tent will be open starting at 2pm on Friday. A badge is required for the bar.

On Saturday at 9am there will be a service and a placement of wreaths to remember the fallen heroes. At 11pm is the parade through Roscommon. At 12:30 the Waterball Contest begins.

There are free carnival and pony rides and a Sawdust Pile Penny Hunt, a BBQ Chicken lunch, and a vehicle extraction competition. Thus is just a few of the fun and educational events planned for the weekend. For schedule and times and just a whole lot more information about whats happening click the link below. And I hope to see you there.

The festival is held at the Fire Training Grounds formerly known as Roscommon Fairgrounds.

 For more info go to Michigan Firemens Memorial Festival website.


Thanks for stopping by,

Ken S


Friday, July 8, 2011

Alpenfest 2011 Gaylord MI

Click for larger view
Alpenfest Badge from 2010

Welcome to Alpenfest. A celebration of food and music in downtown Gaylord from July 12-16. Starting with the Queens Pageant on Tuesday, July 12 in the evening.

With a Grand Parade on Saturday, July 16

 The Alpine Village Main Street is closed to traffic and magically becomes an Alpenstrasse where you will find 60+ artists and craftsmen from around the country selling their wares.

There will be carnival rides for the kids and a week long Megapass will be available giving access to all rides for the week. Passes cost $60. To order passes click here. 

For the adults there is live music:

Wednesday, July 13

12:00 noon The Young Americans make their annual visit to the Alpine Villiage.
8:00 pm Restless Heart, straight from Nashville, don't miss this one

Thursday, July 14

8:00 pm Alan Turner the The Steel Horse Band,

Friday, July 15

8:00 pm Jonny Diaz, a little upbeat Christian Music

Saturday, July 16

7:00 pm The Elders,  Celtic and Irish in one setting!

The Alpine Village Main Street is closed to traffic and magically becomes an Alpenstrasse where you will find 60+ artists and craftsmen from around the country selling their wares.

This festival is a favorite of many vacationers in the area and as such gets many people. So wear comfortable clothes and shoes and enjoy a day of fun, food, music, crafts and rides.

For more info on this and other festivals in the Houghton Lake area click here.

See Ya There,

Ken S

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bluegill Festival July 7-10, 2011

62nd Annual Bluegill Festival


The 62nd Annual Bluegill Festival starts this thursday for four days (July 7-10) in St Helen. Starting with a kids parade, The Kick-Off Ceremony, a live band from 8pm to midnight, a Sloppy Joe dinner and carnival rides.

There's a fishing contest and golf, softball and horseshoe tournaments. There's a talent show and craft show.

A kids day with games and free hot dogs for lunch. There will be carnival rides and a petting zoo and pony rides. For the grown ups there's the mechanical bull ride. Yee-haw.

Did I mention the medallion hunt, the car show and the Grand Parade? And, of course, the Bingo.

So if your in Houghton Lake or plan to come up for the weekend save some time for the St Helen Bluegill Festival 2011.

For much more info on the 2011 Bluegill Festival click here.

Hope to see you there,

Ken S

Friday, July 1, 2011

Houghton Lake Fishing: Snakehead Or Bowfin? Similar But Not The Same


Yesterday I was fishing with my nephew Dan and his son Ryan, from the shore at Marl Lake, where I hooked into a Bowfin (aka Dogfish). Dan immediately categorized it as a Snakehead, the other Asian transplant that's frustrating anglers fishing US waterways and lakes. Due to the similarity in shape many people mistake one for the other. But their markings are distinctly different. For more info on Snakeheads and Bowfins click here.

The truth is Bowfin are native to Michigan waters and can be released. Although I have never tried them, they can be eaten (see link below for recipes).


Snakeheads are an invasive species and are not to be returned to the water (if you catch a Snakehead you should call the nearest DNR to report it). I have never caught a Snakehead in any of the waters around Houghton Lake or Higgins lake. Nor have I ever heard of anyone catching one.

The Bowfin can reach 32 inches in length, the Snakehead reaches about 15 inches. Both put up quite a fight and both feed on small panfish.

Although they prefer panfish, I have caught Bowfin with a piece of Nightcrawler on a small (1/16 oz) jighead. This is my usual setup for catching Sunfish, Bluegills, Perch and sometimes Bass, when fishing from the shoreline or boat.  Look for them in shallow water areas of vegetation (reeds, Lilly pads, Cattails, etc). When one or more Bowfin show up, all other species of fish seems to disappear, so this could be a sign they're around.

For more information on fishing for Bowfin and some recipes check out Bowfins Angler Group.

Did you know you can purchase your fishing and hunting licenses ONLINE? I didn't until my nephews wife told me. Talk about teaching an old dog new tricks. For more info on Michigan E License click here.


Have a Happy 4th,


Ken S



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do Fish Follow The Sun?

Boat Launch at Backus Lake Early Spring

A few days ago decided to go fishing in the AM. Normally I take to the water in the PM, I seem to have more luck at my favorite spots after 6 o'clock in the evening. But I was up and had nothing pressing to do. So I'm sitting in one of my favorite spots on Backus Lake, just to the left of the boat launch near the Lilly Pads and Cattails. I bait up my favorite jighead, pitch it near the Lilly Pads and wait. And wait. And wait. Nothing.

So I go on a quest for the seemingly unpredictable Bluegill or Perch or Bass or Sunfish, Catfish, Northern Pike (you get the picture).

I resort to one of my tried and true methods for finding the fish (not a fish finder). I love my fish finder and use it regularly on Houghton Lake. But on Backus Lake (the water being 2-4 ft deep) instead of a fish finder, I troll around the lake waiting for a bite (I used this method to find a great spot for Perch). When a fish bites I note the position and backtrack to approximately the spot and give it a try.

So on this fine morning I find the fish in an area of reeds and Lilly Pads on the EAST side of the lake (a new fishing hot spot for me). My favorite hot spot is on the WEST side of the lake where I fish in the evening.

So do fish follow the sun?

Scientists believe there is direct evidence of fish feeding habits and the position of the moon. Basically fish feed more when the moon is directly overhead or positioned on the opposite side of the earth. Sooo, maybe fish follow the moon. Just one more thing to think about when looking for the wily and elusive trophy lunker.

True story: A group of young fishermen on their $40,000 fiberglass bass boat with the 250 hp engine, outfitted with the latest in fishing technology, head out one morning to catch a "mess 'o big ones". Using a chart of "hot" fishing spots and side scan sonar, baitcaster reels and the latest crank baits, soft baits and spinners. Jigs, top waters and harnesses. Leeches, Canadian crawlers, minnows and wax worms.

They found the best spot according to the chart. After cruising back and forth over the spot, the sonar indicated a large concentration of fish. The excited fisherman, with visions of wall mounts dancing in their heads, prepared for an all out assault on the record breaking fish.

While they were gearing up, an old angler came put-putting by in his 14 ft aluminum fishing boat with a 6 hp engine, a coffee can of worms and an old cane fishing pole with a cork bobber. He looked over, smiled and waved as he went past them. The young anglers laughed and made bets whether the "old guy" would catch anything with worms and a cane pole with a cork bobber. Didn't he know, technology is king? Even when fishing. So with a last chuckle they got down to serious fishing.

Four hours later, after a pitched battle of snags in over hanging trees, snags on underwater logs, tangled lines, backlashes, lost lures and not one fish to show for it, the haggard group saw the the old angler returning. Put-putting along in his old aluminum fishing boat with the cane fishing pole with the cork bobber and the coffee can of worms.He waved and asked them how they did to which they replied, "this lake is fished out".

The old angler just smiled, held up a stringer filled with choice fish and said, "They're down there fellas, you just have to bring them up."

Good fishing,

Ken S

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fishing Report: Backus Lake 6-20-11

I was fishing Backus Lake last friday morning when another fisherman asked how I was doing and was I having any luck? I said I had trolled around the shoreline and maybe had three bites. But I had stopped and caught a few small ones still fishing. To that he just shook his head and said, "this place is fished out". It's unbelievable how often I hear this.

I have a neighbor and friend that went with me to one of my favorite evening shore fishing sites. He picked me up at 5 pm and we drove the 6 miles to the site. He fished for maybe 15 minutes, declared the spot "fished out" and went and sat in his Jeep until I packed up and we went home. Let me just say my idea of evening fishing is about an hour or two before sunset until I can't see my bobber anymore.

When shore fishing in the evening I average 12 fish of varying sizes with 3 or 4 being keepers. But they don't always bite right away. And they always run in streaks. So if I left after 30 minutes I wouldn't have near the success I have.

I enjoy fishing and I like communing with nature. As is often the case I go fishing alone thus the lack of pictures. It's near impossible to hold up a fish and get a good picture. Plus I don't like to touch my Nikon camera with dirty, slimy hands. (A lens can be easily ruined just by water spots)

Anyway, I had a great time trolling. I had the whole lake to myself. The swarms of mosquitoes that had been there the last 6 weeks were gone (at least for this one day). And I caught a few keepers and just plain enjoyed myself. And that's what fishing is suppose to be about. Take it slow, be patient, enjoy the company if your with someone. Let the days cares melt away and just revel in the beauty that nature has to offer.

Here's to those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer,

Ken S

Friday, June 17, 2011

Traverse City Cherry Festival 2011

National Cherry Festival
July 2-9, 2011
Traverse City, MI

OK, this one isn't in Houghton Lake. But if your here around the beginning of July and your looking for a very special day trip, cruise about 40 minutes west of Grayling along M-72 to Traverse City for the National Cherry Festival.

Should be known as the International Cherry Festival as many festival goers come from all over the globe to partake of the celebration of this small, red, delicious and very versatile sweet/tart fruit. Gracing pies, jam/jellies, soda pop, wine, beer...and so on. 

Did I mention they're fabulous all alone? Pop one in your mouth and bite down BUT be careful of the pit. It can reek havoc with your teeth.

Who hasn't tried to tie a knot in a cherry stem using only their tongue? I can't do it but I know someone who can (Marsha). I don't know if they have a contest for this but they should.

Vintage 1940 Cherry Festival

This years National Cherry Festival will be July 2-9 and features:
  • Old Town Classic Car Show
  • Teen Volleyball Tournament
  • Old Mission Peninsula Bike Tour
  • Festival Air Show
  • Cherry Pit Spit Contest
  • Cherry Pie Eating Contest
  • Million Dollar Hole-In-One Golf Contest
  • and much more....

There's a midway filled with carnival rides, souvenirs and everything Cherry.

Bay Side Music Stage Concerts include:

  • Wed., July 6  "Kansas"
  • Thurs., July 7 "1964...The Tribute" (Beatles tribute band)
  • Fri., July 8  ".38 Special with Brantley Gilbert"
  • Sat., July 9  "Josh Gracin"

*Concert tickets can be purchased for $15 for all four nights. 

For more info click here National Cherry Festival

For the adults:
  • Global Wine Pavilion
  • Beer Tent
  • Pie Eating Contest
  • and more..

For the kids:
  • Kids Bubblegum Blow
  • Princess Tea
  • Kids Festival Matinee
  • Kids Cherry Pie Eating Contest
  • and more..


Whatever your age or interest there's something at the festival for you. So come to Houghton Lake and leave a day open to take a short ride and enjoy one of the best festivals in the world. You'll be glad you did.

For more area festivals click here.

Hope to see you there,

Ken S

Friday, June 10, 2011

Michigan DNR State Campgrounds, Deer Baiting & Free Fishing Weekend


The 23 state rustic campgrounds have been saved at least for another season. It was never known to me Whether Reedsburg state campground was on the list for closing or not. I do know that Reedsburg gets plenty of campers during the summer and a few during the spring and fall seasons. Many local fisherman use the boat ramp in the campground for some excellent fishing in the Dead Stream Flooding. The flooding also offers beautiful views from a number of the campsites during any season.

The DNR has voted to rescind the ban on baiting in most lower peninsula counties. See DNR website for list of counties that are still banned from baiting. Baiting will be allowed from Oct 1 to Jan 1. Recreational feeding on a homeowners property within 100 yds of the home is reinstated year round. The rule will be revisited again in 3 years.

June 11 & 12 is Michigan free fishing weekend. It's a chance to try out fishing without having to buy a license. So take the kids and get out for a day or two of fun and relaxation and maybe inspire a future angler.

Good Luck and Be Safe,

Ken S

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Houghton Lake Fishing: How to cast a Baitcaster Reel

Fishing has been a little slow due to the hot weather and the hatching of the fish flies. Fish are gorging on the bugs and ignoring much of the other types of bait.

So with the extra time on my hands I decided to practice my casting. (It was that or due some housework)

Like many of you I have been plagued by the curse of the "baitcaster reel". Recently I came across a video that helped me by explaining how to properly set up the reel. So before you throw away your baitcaster reel, check this out you'll be glad you did:












Here's another helpful video. It's a neat trick for clearing backlashes:


I hope these instructional videos will help you as much as they've helped me.

Good Luck,

Ken S

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Houghton Lake: Gun and Knife Show-June 11 & 12, 2011

Michigan Gun and Knife Shows is coming to Houghton Lake. 

Show will be June 11 & 12. Hours 9-5 on Sat and 10-3 on Sunday.

At the Busy Bee Mall between Tractor Supply and Dunham's Sports (the old Wal Mart building) on M-55. 

For more info click here to go to Michigan Gun and Knife Shows.


Thanks for stopping by,


Ken S

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Walleye Special Report: June 4, 2011

The scuttlebutt around the Houghton Lake area is that the Walleye are running along the west side of the lake. They're biting from around 10am to 3pm snacking on minnows. Perch are also feeding on minnows and 10-12 inch ones are not unusual. Best fishing seems to be in 9 ft of water.

Good luck,

Ken S

Friday, May 27, 2011

Houghton Lake Area Fishing Report: May 27, 2011

Backus Creek Flooding
by
Ken Stephenson

Weather this Memorial Day weekend is looking good with temps in the high 70's and occasional showers. The Walleye are biting at Houghton Lake, on leeches and nightcrawlers trolling in about 8-9 feet of water along the edge of the weed bed, south side. There's good fishing all day with peaks after sunrise and before sunset. Large Walleye are being taken during the night. Mostly due to their light sensitive eyes. When the weed beds grow up you can find them there.

Reedsburg Dam Spring 2011
by
K. Stephenson

The water levels are still high at Reedsburg causing the Muskegon River to run fast south of the dam. Also the fishing area is still flooded and inaccessible. This makes fishing by the dam poor. But many anglers are dropping boats and fishing not far off the boat launch. With underwater tree stumps and debris, it's a great area for Bass fishing. There are also Northern Pike, Bluegill and Perch. I haven't heard how the fishing has been but there are plenty of people dropping their boats in and wetting a line. Worth a try.  I have been told the cove south off the boat launch is a great place for Crappie. You can't go wrong with crawlers or leeches.

Backus Lake Spring 2011
by
K Stephenson

Bass Raider at Backus Lake
by
K. Stephenson

The Bluegills are biting at Backus Lake. The key is small hooks and worms or small pieces of nightcrawler. A couple of weeks ago I was catching Big and small Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Perch. All within 2 hours before sunset. Never had a night like that before or since. If you have never caught Bluegill before, you will be surprised so much fight can come in such a small package. And when they jump you'll swear you have a Bass on the hook. Great eating, too.

The last I heard the Bluegill fishing was good on Lake St Helen, with the best being off Artesia beach. Check in at Malcomb's Tackle Box on your way into town. They'll let you know what you'll need for a fun day of Bluegill fishing.

This saturday is the beginning of Largemouth and Smallmouth season (saturday before Memorial Day).

If your going out remember to bring mosquito repellent because the fish aren't the only thing biting right now.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend and remember those who died for this great nation, so that we might enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

Ken S

Friday, May 20, 2011

Camping at Backus Lake

Boat Launch at Backus Lake
by
K Stephenson

For anyone who follows my blog you know I enjoy fishing at Backus Lake. This is due to the tranquility and the good fishing (most days). What I have not previously mentioned is that being this is state land there are campsites by the lake. These sites are purely rustic with NO facilities. And the cost is zero dollars. You just need to fill out a permit at a local DNR station and post it next to your site.

I went out to Backus Lake to do some fishing like I do most every evening. And I was surprised (albeit mildly) that all of the sites by the lake were taken. Not too surprising since next weekend is Memorial Day weekend. What really surprised me was the number of campers on each site. There were no less than two campers per site and some had three.

I have mixed feelings about this since I like to drop my Bass Raider in the water there for some Bluegill and Perch fishing. One it takes away the tranquility since my favorite two spots are just off two camp sites (lots of vegetation and cattails). On the other hand the economic crunch has affected area businesses and several long standing ones have closed recently.

I'm no fan of high gas prices. But the silver lining to this black crowd is more people vacationing closer to home. For Houghton and other area lakes this equates to more exposure a place to go this summer. And maybe for summers to come. Not due to high gas prices but because of great experiences and fond memories of time spent with family and friends in a tranquil setting. Like many of the current residents here I am a transplant from the Detroit suburbs so I know first hand the hectic lifestyle of city living. And I know the relaxing benefits of camping.

There are many excellent state and privately owned campgrounds in the Houghton-Higgins lakes area. Sites at most state campgrounds can be reserved online at the DNR website (click here). Other state area sites include: Reedsburg, North Houghton Lake, North and South Higgins Lake. These are NOT free sites. They have varying fees starting at $16 per night for rustic tent camping. Check DNR website for fees.

As always enjoy what nature has to offer and show her respect by leaving the area better than you found it. Help out by picking up any trash someone may have left behind. I carry a trash bag with me when ever I go out.

Have a great summer filled with memories you'll be talking about for years to come.

Ken S

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Houghton Lake Fishing Report-Backus Lake-Fish On-May 2011

It was Friday afternoon and the weather was sunny then overcast then sunny again. I had been out two track riding with my brother, checking on a new fishing spot I had heard of on the Denton Creek Flooding. It didn't pan out but I will have another look. Always looking for another secluded spot to catch a few fish.

I was sitting at home again and trying to decide if the wind was too high to keep a bobber in place long enough to attract some fish. I decided to at least go out so I didn't watch anymore TV. It turned out to be one of my best fishing experiences.

Since the ice-out this spring, I haven't had much luck in any of my favorite fishing holes. The high waterline have kept the fish in the deeper water unreachable from the shore. The DNR put the docks in at the boat launches last weekend, but the high winds prevented most anglers from attempting a day on the lake.

So far I've been on both Backus Lake and the Dead Stream Flooding in my Bass Tracker (no dock required). I didn't even get a bite. It was those times when I would rather have them steal my bait just so I know they are there. The water is receding toward normal and over the past few days the fish have started biting. Finally.

I just returned home from Backus Lake. Of course I didn't bring my camera but my catch was; 1 Northern Pike, 2 Largemouth Bass, 1 Perch, and 9 Bluegill, in about 2 hours of fishing. Thursday I caught 12+ Bluegills in about 1 hour fishing from the shore. All were released. Primarily I used pieces of nightcrawler and a couple were caught on Gulp 3"minnows. I'm still not sold on the Gulp and I only thought to try them when I ran out of crawlers.

I only use a piece of a nightcrawler because I expect to catch Bluegills and they have small mouths and probably won't attempt to swallow a whole crawler. But the two Largemouth Bass (both were legal size) were also caught with a small piece of worm on a 1/16th oz orange/yellow jighead. Again a small hook for Bluegill. And the Northern Pike was on the Gulp minnow on the 1/8th oz black jighead. I switched to the larger hook because of the Bass. Also, I was using an orange, round weighted bobber for extra distance on my cast with the light weight jighead.

All in all a very enjoyable evening of fishing.

Best fishing times are 1/2 hour after sunrise to midmorning and after 6pm in the evening until sundown.

Until next time,

Ken S

Monday, May 2, 2011

DNR Boat Lauches Are Open: Docks in water for 2011 Season

DNR Boat Launch Westside
bt
K Stephenson
Oh Happy Day! The DNR has put the boat launch docks back in the water for the 2011 season. Over the weekend the docks were placed back in the water. A few boaters braved the high winds and waves seldom seen on Houghton Lake to either attempt fishing (Walleye season opened Saturday) or to launch their pontoon boats for docking at a marina.

The canals were busy, not with boats though. The canals were lined with fisherman either just getting out in the summer like temperatures (72 degrees) or in anticipation of the spring Crappie run that normally occurs around mid May. I can tell you that a of Sunday the 1st of May the run had not yet begun as many a frustrated fisherman grumbled on the way back to their vehicles. I had tried my luck behind Whiteheads but in the 2 hours I was there I saw one small fish caught (not by me). The angler next to me was fortunate enough to recapture his cap after the winds blew it into the canal. Possibly the "catch of the day".

So the docks are in and the Crappie should be running in a couple of weeks and I'll have to take a number to get a spot along a canal.

With the high gas prices again this summer, vacation trips to state campgrounds are predicted to be higher than usual so reserve your favorite spot online at the Michigan DNR website. And don't forget to get your Michigan Parks & Recreation Areas Passport when you renew your vehicle license tabs. It's only $10 for annual access to state parks and rec areas. Lets keep our parks and rec areas open and in good condition for generations to come.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ice Out Complete-DNR Docks NOT Back In The Water Yet 2011

Backus Lake Spring 2011

In case you saw my blog report earlier, the DNR has NOT put the docks in the lake yet. It would seem someone may have illegally slid the dock into the lake. Probably so they could put their boat in the water. With the winds whipping around at +25mph and whitecaps on the lake, it wouldn't be a good day to be on the lake. Weather reports are calling for bad weather all weekend.

With the water almost high enough to cover them. The water is usually high this time of year due the run off from the ice and snow. This works fine for me since my boat trailer rides a bit high. Sometimes I have to back up to the end of the dock to drop my boat in or get it back out, always afraid I might go off the end of the ramp. I'll be venturing out soon but I wanted to get this note out to you, this being Friday, in case you have plans to come to Houghton Lake this weekend.

On another note the fishing at Reedsburg dam and dead Stream Flooding has been lousy. I believe due to the run off and the river being fast. I've been using nightcrawlers and artificial baits. Though I haven't tried minnows.  Also the area by the dam is flooded on the river side of the dam so fishing from shore is limited.

Reminder: The new Passport system for Michigan State Parks also includes the DNR boat launches. So for $10 it's quite a deal (less than the cost of two day passes). Just check the box for the Passport when renewing your vehicle tabs. A "P" will be on the tabs and passport will be on your paper registration. Each vehicle must have it's own Passport. I have Passport on both my F 150 and my Explorer and I still paid less than I would have for either the annual-parks OR boat launch sticker for one vehicle. If we want this system to stay in place we have to use it. Tell your family, friends and neighbors. It's only $10, less than a movie ticket, for a years worth of access. But only if it is successful. Over 20 state campgrounds are set to be closed again this year due to lack of funds (you still have to pay for a campsite). So tell everyone you know about the DNR Passport. Let's save our state park system.

Thanks for stopping by,

Ken S

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Michigan DNR Closing State Campgrounds-Is Reedsburg on the Chopping Block?



 The state campground at Reedsburg may be closing. According to a Detroit newspaper I recently read, 23 state forest campgrounds across the U.P. and northern Michigan, may be closing as early as May 19, in a cost cutting move by the new director.

There's no list of the campgrounds being considered but one of the criteria seems to be whether there's somewhere else to camp nearby. We have three state campgrounds plus several privately owned campgrounds within 15 miles of each other and all of them are well used each summer. I don't believe any of our state campgrounds here in the Houghton lake area will be closed but once we start down this road, where does it end?

The second largest industry in Michigan is tourism (after the auto industry). With gas prices set to reach over $4 a gallon this summer. Families will be looking for an inexpensive way to spend their summer vacations probably closer to home to save on the cost of travel. Thus the Michigan campgrounds are a very attractive option. Over the decades the younger generations have lost interest in the outdoors. But with the "Go Green" movement, some interest in the outdoors has been rekindled.

I love the outdoors. I always have. There was a time when I stopped going to the state parks. Now I visit often. I make it no secret that I enjoy going to Reedsburg Dam and the Dead Stream Flooding for some fishing. It has become almost a daily sojourn for me.

Recently we lost the Michigan State Fair. The oldest fair of it's kind in the US. It ran for over 140 years straight. Even through the Great Depression years. Last year, in a cost cutting move, it was cancelled. A 140 year tradition gone. Let's not let our campgrounds disappear to save a few dollars. Take a camping trip this summer. Let the DNR and our governor know, we still want our campgrounds.

Thanks for listening,

Ken S

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Houghton Lake Ice-Out is Underway

A Pair of Ducks at Dead Stream Flooding
photo by
K. Stephenson
Although winter hit us with one last shot in the form of 8 inches of snow about a week and a half ago. Warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine since then have the ice on the run. Houghton Lake and surrounding area lakes and waterways have all begun to at least show water, with some moving waterways almost completely ice free. Ice out on Houghton Lake could occur as soon as the third week in April. The DNR puts the docks in around the beginning of May.

Dead Stream Flooding Next to Reedsburg Dam
photo by
K. Stephenson

The above photo was taken the last day of March and the ice has receded even further since then.

Backus Lake is still mostly covered with ice but is showing signs of melting such as a 3 inch wide crack near the boat launch. The road back to Backus Lake is heavily rutted from the winter ice fishermen. And with the frost coming out of the ground the road is very muddy and slick. Use caution or just wait until May before venturing out to Backus Lake.

Now that we're in the transition period between ice fishing and open water fishing, this is a great time to think about cleaning and oiling your favorite reel. Maybe replacing the frayed or stretched line with some new line. One maybe two seasons can cause the line to lose it's strength. There's nothing like getting the big one on the hook only to have the line break when you get him next to the boat.

Speaking of hooks you should sharpen or replace any dull hooks. Heck, why not just empty the tackle box and get rid of the junk. You know the pieces of fishing line, the bent jigheads, broken bobbers, lures that are missing hooks. How about the wrappers from the crappie rigs, the sinkers, the beef jerky and sandwiches? You know what I'm talking about. Put the boat battery on the charger. Nothing can ruin the day like a dead battery. You don't even get away from the dock. Not to mention it's embarrassing (believe me I know).

Get organized before the season starts and your fishing adventure will be much more fun and relaxing.

Think safety and have a great summer of fishing.

Ken S.

.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gun and Knife Show-March 26 & 27, 2011

Michigan Gun and Knife Shows is coming to Houghton Lake. 

Show will be March 26 & 27. Hours 9-5 on Sat and 10-3 on Sunday.

At the Busy Bee Mall between Tractor Supply and Dunham's Sports (the old Wal Mart building) on M-55. 

For more info click here to go to Michigan Gun and Knife Shows.


FYI New Fishing Site: Houghton Lake Fishing Report


Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fishing the Cut River

Cut River by Lansing Rd
by
K. Stephenson


The Cut River which runs from Higgins Lake through Marl Lake and down to Houghton Lake. It's a great place to canoe or kayak. It's also a great place for fishing. Most of the Cut is inaccessible thus leaving plenty of fish. One spot that can be accessed is by Lansing Rd about 1 1/2 miles east of Cty  Rd 100. Fishing is prohibited from March 23-April 23 for spawning.

The ice is slowly receding from the middle and should be clear in time for the spawn. I haven't fished the Cut River yet, but it is on my list of new places to try this summer.

For anyone who doesn't know yet. Beginning in October 2010, then Gov Granholm and the DNR initiated a new annual pass system for entering parks and/or state boat launch sites.

Photo by K. Stephenson

Using what is now known as a Passport which is purchased from the Secretary of State when renewing your license plates. If you wish to get the Passport, check the box on your plate renewal. It costs $10 as opposed to the $26 formerly charged for the annual park pass or boat launch pass (they were separate). Thats a savings of $42 a year if you bought both for one vehicle.

The license sticker will have a "P" on it if you have paid the extra $10 for the annual Passport and it will read Passport on your new registration. I have the Passport for both of my vehicles and at $10 each I'm still saving $32. The state needs 18% participation to equal funds under the previous system. Participation is currently running at 20% and the DNR is hoping for 25%.

The per day pass is still $6. So if you use a park and/or boat launch twice the Passport is paid for. Ten dollars is a small price to pay to keep our parks and boat launches in pristine condition for generations to come.

For more info click here DNR Passports.

We picked up a couple more inches of snow today but the high temps are suppose to be in the mid 30's for the next few days.

Until next time stay safe, stay warm and have fun,

Ken S.