Thursday, December 24, 2015

Twas the Night Before; Can't Be Without Snow

A little snow at Christmas helps set the season. When we lived in southern California, we would get up on Christmas morning, head for church, and be driving in short sleeves, sunny skies and palm trees instead of spruce and maples.
Truth be told, there are times when I wish we were still out there with the warm weather and sunny, vitamin D rich skies.
This weeks column is about a local man, Jay Stielstra. Jay is a sportsman; a bird hunter and fly angler still sling the flies on the long rod.
He's also a fine musician and song writer, having written over 150 songs. He's written poetry and five plays.
His work is all about Michigan and the outdoors. The "Manistee River Waltz" is a song about experiences along the Manistee and the many places fly anglers are familiar with.
One place I have never heard of was the Mecum bar. "Where is that at, Jay," asked him over the phone.
He chuckled then said, "there is no Mecum bar. You won't find it. But there is a Mecum Road along the Manistee River. We used to hide beer under a tree there and would say to others fishing, we'll meet you at the Mecum Bar."
Another song I just learned about is called "The Christmas Tree Ship." It's a song about the wreck of the Rouse Simmons, a 205-ton, three-masted schooner that disappeared on Lake Michigan in November, 1912.
A Wisconsin diver had discovered the grave of one of the most famous "Christmas tree ships" and its skipper, "Captain Santa,"captain Herman E. Schuenemann.
The ship gets it's name from hauling Christmas trees to Chicago and selling them dockside. Because trees were becoming popular and Chicago had a scarcity, several ships hauled trees to that port each year before Christmas.
For more information about Stielstra and his songs visit

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In Between Seasons; Just at Wrong Time of the Year

I used to think the in between times were somewhere just after ice out and the spring fishing seasons began.
But this weather has changed that. Hard water anglers are doing everything they can to have a hand in ice fishing.
There are contests being promoted for tackle and ice shacks, charters advertised for hard water once it gets here, promotions for everything new in the ice fishing world and so forth.
Here we are, just a couple of weeks before Christmas, and we're still looking at 50-plus degree temperatures later next week.
Ski resorts must be tearing their hair out. This is definitely going to be a late start for snow sports and ice fishing.
Longtime ice angler, Don Luenberger from Bay City has his equipment all ready to load up. "I'm waiting on the ice like everyone else," he said. "But I've heard the bay won't have enough ice to fish this year or next."
That's not good news for the small mom and pop retailers that cater to anglers and snowmobilers by renting rooms, selling gas, oil or the many tackle items fishermen need. For some, the winter season is the most productive.
But getting back to the Christmas season, check out my column in this Sunday's Oakland Press. Bob Luellen of Worldwide Marine Underwriters Insurance sent me information about his fishing buddy Randy Gaines.
Although the event took place earlier in December, it seems as though Gaines may have made a family near Salem, Ohio happy by helping to put food on their table.
Without telling too much of the story here, Gaines made friends with two young children as he was tying up his boat. Following a little conversation, Gaines knew what the right thing would be to do.
Along with this column, Luellen mentioned that the National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) has a program that allows them to provide rod and reel combos, T-shirts and other goodies to the first 100 kids that show up for one of their tournaments.
Last year, NPAA held 118 tournaments. That's a lot of rod combos! To finance the program, NPAA hosts an auction with all proceeds going to the Future Anglers Foundation. The auction takes place January 9, 2016. For more information visit
Bob Luellen and a young angler holding fresh caught walleyes. Photo contributed

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Grab your Boards, Treetops Has Snow

"We've got snow," Treetops Resort general manager Barry Owens said. We were open for skiing a lot earlier last year but of course the weather was a lot different.
Owens was referring to the colder temperatures and all the snow we received last year in November. For you downhill ski enthusiasts, this news is good. Another bit of news,next week-Dec., 11-12-13, is the weekend for huge discounts on motel rooms that come with all-day lift tickets. These "Ski Free" packages include free learn to ski clinics.
Kids getting a ski lesson at Treetops
How can Treetops be making snow when we are all experiencing nearly spring-like weather?
"It's Gaylord," Gaylord Area Tourism Director Paul Beachnau joked. "Seriously, it's been cold here."
Next weekend is a great time for beginners or those that just want to try skiing out to get a lesson and hit the slopes.
While many of us are waiting for ice fishing to begin and some are in the woods for muzzleloading season, those that like your fun skiing can get the season started sooner rather than later.