‘Roadmap to Fishing Lake Michigan’ leaves angler with questions
When I travel to unfamiliar places to fish for what might be unfamiliar fish, one of the things I try to find is a “fishing calendar” for the area. You’ve seen them, I’m sure.
Here’s a couple of scenarios:
Scenario one – I’m going to Fort Myers, Fla., for a meeting in January. Besides the meeting, I’m thinking about warm sun, sandy beaches and fishing. But what’s biting? I’ve clicked around a few websites and learned the chance of catching a tarpon is slim, but there ought to be some sea trout or redfish available.
Scenario two – It’s been too long since I’ve made a nice catch of crappies. Where would be a good place to try? A few clicks around the World Wide Web soon reveals places where crappies are king and the fishing calendar lists the specific times of the year they are easiest to catch.
I look at these calendars about the same way I look at general weather patterns. I’ve been rained on in places it normally doesn’t rain; I’ve been half-frozen in places it’s normally warm; I’ve been skunked on fishing trips to places where the fish are supposed to be biting; and I’ve made amazing catches of fish not listed on a web-based fishing calendar.
When I saw the news of a new Michigan DNR web feature, I checked it out. Called “Roadmap to Fishing Lake Michigan,” I thought it might be a listing of public fishing areas or perhaps how to find launching ramps for boat access to Lake Michigan. Nope, it’s a fishing calendar.
A quick scan shows it’s not a particularly good one, either. At one time or another, I’ve fished Lake Michigan along Michigan’s entire coastline. Even the few particular spots I’ve missed I’m familiar enough to make a good guess about what species would likely be found and when they are likely to be biting. Evidently, the DNR’s map-makers aren’t.
I hope visitors to Michigan or even Michigan residents not overly familiar with fishing Lake Michigan view this “Roadmap” with the same skepticism I view regional weather norms. Otherwise, I’d think there are no fish to be caught at New Buffalo from June through October, or any fish available at Beaver Island other than smallmouth or carp, and then only during the height of the summer.
I applaud the DNR for trying to put useful information on their website. I will admit the page looks handsome. I understand the page was, no doubt, a giant project designed to deliver only a tiny glimpse of basic information. I’d much rather the effort showed me the best routes to the boat ramps at Manistee or Grand Haven.
On the other hand, if I’m ever at a meeting at Petoskey in early May, I’ll know to pack my bullhead gear.