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E-M:/ Some Inspiration from Don Snitgen

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>


Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 13:26:33 -0400
Subject: Fishing story
From: " Don Snitgen" <dsnitgen@tds.net>
To: Mary Snitgen <dsnitgen@tds.net>
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Dear Friends of Deer Lake,

Here's a fishing story for you.

I remember the baby-sitter my parents hired so they could go fishing during
our annual one week vacation in Kalkaska County. By the time I was six I was
going in the boat with my folks. The dog and I would play in the bow trying
to net baby painted turtles while my parents caught fish--- many, large
fish, usually large mouth bass, but also northern, walleye, smallmouth bass,
perch, bluegills, rock bass, crappie, and, on occasion, trout. I caught my
first keeper bass when I was 9. It weighed a pound and a half and looks
small in the picture now, but seemed huge then. It's dwarfed next to the
photo of the 6 and 3/4 pound largemouth my dad caught on a Johnson Silver
Minnow with a pork rind. He and my cousin and I were fishing on Smith Lake.

Dad had casted the bait next to the shore over a huge, nearly sunken, pine
tree. There was a sucking sound and a sort of whirl-pool and the line on my
dad's pole sprung tight and the rod bent into a C. But, the single hook got
caught on the log. So, I had to get out of the boat onto the slippery log
and trace the line down to where the spoon was hooked and release it with my
hand, an inch from a gaping mouth that looked big enough to swallow my arm!
I was able to get a grip on the spoon and just lifted the huge fish into the
boat where my cousin wrestled it to the floor while my Dad removed the lure
and got the bass on the stringer. My dad nailed the head on a tree, and we
ate the fish, huge boneless filets. What my parents and I did, during any
time off, was fish, unless we were hunting. I've eaten every kind of fish
that is fished for in Michigan.

When my parents passed away, I inherited all the fishing gear. The boat is a
14 foot Starcraft aluminum row boat with all the State stickers from current
back to 1963. The Johnson 4 horse outboard motor is 25 years old and still
purrs like a kitten for trolling. Now my children are taking my
grandchildren fishing in the boat.

Our boat has been drug through swamps, bogs, woods, etc. in order to fish
most of the lakes between the Huron Mountain Club and Amasa. I don't know
how many inland lakes there are in Lower Michigan, but our boat has been on
a great number of them from the Bridge to south of Jackson. I would guess
half of them, but I could be way off. Propulsion was usually with oars,
especially on the the rocky, dark waters of Baraga County. The 4 horse was
used if the lake was big and if we didn't have to carry it too far.
I remember the first time our fishing was ruined by a speed boater, back in
the mid 50's. My folks and I were fishing for bass, along the shore in the
lilies, on a small lake not far from Lansing. It was a beautiful, still,
late summer evening with all kinds of insects dancing in the beams of the
setting sun to the music of the male red wings. The lake was like glass
which appeared to shatter when bass would burst through the surface to
strike our lure. I remember hearing the roar and thinking it was a low
flying airplane. Suddenly a big, long, pointy boat with a huge outboard
motor tore through the lilies between us and the shore, nearly catching our
lines. I'll never forget the sort of cartoon-like curtain of lily pad pieces
rising in a high arc behind the craft, and learning some new words from my
Dad. It's interesting that I've been fishing probably thousands of times and
that one bad incident sticks in my mind so vividly.

We're going to lose the fishing on Deer Lake in Alger County if the DNR puts
in a boat ramp on the east end. Currently, people who want to fish Deer Lake
do the same thing I do, drag our boat from the MDOT parking lot to the lake
and go fishing. Once the jetskis and speed boats are allowed on that little
lake the fishing will be done for. Forever!

I have close friends, a married couple, that play host to the woman's
elderly grandfather for a few weeks each year. Leo is in his eighties and
loves to fish. The couple had to attend a meeting one day, so to provide a
pleasant experience for Leo they took him down to Cowell Lake south of
Shingleton. Leo was left there in their 14 foot boat to enjoy the day
fishing. When they came back to pick him up, they were appalled to see two
jetskis circling Leo's boat like a couple of deerflies. Needless to say,
those two vandals on PWC's ruined the day for three people, and certainly
didn't help Leo's blood pressure!  Just wait until the power boaters have
open house at Deer Lake!

As a fisherman, what I recommend for launching a boat on Deer Lake, is a
gravel drive from the MDOT parking lot where one could back a trailer with a
small boat. There's plenty of room to park a vehicle with a trailer while
fishing, and there are new toilets and picnic tables and drinking water at
the park. The big pines in the adjacent forest, where the MDNR wants to
build their boat launch, would be preserved and the wetland wouldn't have to
be dredged. There could be a small wooden dock and fishing platform with
handicap access.

A ban on gasoline fueled motors from the lake would stop vandals with power
boats from ruining it for fishermen and others. It would also reduce the
threat of gasoline and oil pollution and introduction of exotic species into
Deer Lake.

Deer Lake doesn't need to be planted with thousands of walleyes. Especially
if the DNR is going to poison it again like they did in the '70s. There's a
well balanced population of northerns, walleyes, smallmouths, and rock bass
in the lake which provide great sport for fishermen competent enough to
catch them. Steelheads and salmon run up Sucker Creek into Deer Lake during
spawning seasons. It probably isn't a good lake upon which to hold a fishing
derby, but then, most persons fish for reasons other than competition. With
prudent fishing and reduced environmental damage, the lake will remain
healthy for a long time to come.

Donald A. Snitgen
Shelter Bay

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