Beaver Island, Michigan. We’ve all heard about it. Some of us have been lucky enough to get there and see this island chain that’s earned it’s place in fly fishing mythos. A few years back, when I was last on the island, it was mentioned how someone could come up and scumbag it on the beaches, walk the flats, and maybe if he’s lucky, catch some fish. That idea stuck in my head because it sounded like an amazing trip for someone with a do it yourself mentality. Fast forward a few years and I started thinking about maybe heading up with a boat, sleep on a beach, and get away from everything. My buddy Andrew and I started bouncing ideas off of each other and we formed a plan. Now, they say that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and that was the truth in this case.
I got word that the mosquitos this year were bad. Bad in this case was an understatement. We ditched the sleeping on the beach idea, which was the main part of awesome for this trip. Hotels just aren’t as great for morning views of Lake Michigan even when yours looks out at the bay. I called around and got lucky on a room. Gimme the room, it don’t matter the price because, well, mosquitos. Fuck mosquitos. Evil little bloodsucking assholes who serve no purpose. Kinda like a politician. We arrived on the island on Friday night to winds and rain and cold. Cold being relative as I’d left 90 degree weather in Indiana and was greeted with high 50s and low 60s on Beaver. The big lake was a little choppy for the Towee, so we headed to an interior lake to fish bass and pike. When you think bad mosquitos you go, “oh I’ll just throw on some bug dope and I’ll be fine..” Ha! No such luck here. These things live on hate and spite and think of deet as an appetizer. You can’t stop on shore, you can’t be near shore, if you are near shore, you leave shore as fast as possible. They will drain your blood through layers of clothing. They swarm so bad that you’d think they have a hive mind hell bent on the destruction of anything breathing. The lake we fished was beautiful, just like you expect a northern climate lake to be. I did hook up with some hammerhandles if I remember right, but we were skunked that night. We did however lose about 16 pints of blood so it was back to the bar to replenish them with beers and food. One thing to know about this island is that there is damn near no place to get food after 9 or 10pm. If you’re hungry, you stay hungry until the sun comes up and the breakfast spot opens up. Better pack that PB & J.
Saturday was our one full day of fishing. We had to head back Sunday so we checked the water, wind, and headed out to search for some carp. A word of caution if you ever do something like this and have a small skiff like a Towee, do not attempt this if the waves are up. Great boats for small streams and calm flats. Not so much for open Great Lakes water where things can change in a heartbeat. We were always watching for the wind change in case we had to run the few miles across deep water from one island to get back to the bay. We hit one island and immediately saw carp. They were moving with purpose. Cruising fast and ignoring anything you presented to them. We kept hoping for one to turn and get hot, but we couldn’t buy a bite even with a perfect setup. We had maybe one out of fifty slow down and then keep on cruising. That shit is heartbreaking. The bass and a pike were eating though the bass are closed season until July 1st on Beaver so you can’t actively target them. They will eat what you’re throwing to carp, so good luck getting them to stop.
The day was amazing for just exploring and enjoying the feeling of being remote. We found a flat with a marshy back water and just started heading back into it. There were so many fish back in there it seemed silly. GPS showed a channel to another open area so we just kept going. We started feeling like we might have been the first to get that far back in sometime. Totally not true, but damn it feels like it. That’s a great feeling that’s hard to come by in this day and age. The mosquitos on this island might have been worse. We could hear them from the interior of the island. It’s like they were chanting our names. Evil little shits. I can’t wait til we genetically engineer them out of existence.
Sunday came too soon and we had to hop the ferry back to the mainland. It’s a weird feeling getting back to what’s considered civilization after only less than 48 hours on the island. 60 miles per hour seems insane. No one waves. People are in a hurry to get nowhere fast. That’s the best thing to come off the island, that reset that you need sometimes. We shot back to Midland and then I headed out for the drive back to Indiana.
So that brings us to this.. Can you DIY Beaver Island? Yes. Should you? Well, that’s the thing that I’ve been pondering for a month. To answer truthfully, to get the fullest fishing experience while there, I would have to say no. I know personally if we had a few more days out there we could have stuck a carp or even a few but to truly have an epic fishing experience out there you need to hire the guys who make a living guiding it, so look up Indigo Guide Service, and let Kevin, Steve, and Austin take you fishing. They know that massive expanse of water intimately, they know where the carp are, and they make it look easy. It’s not as easy as it looks and if you don’t respect Lake Michigan, she will make you respect her and that can mean bad things for you and your boat. I will be the first to say I wish we’d had a day to fish with the Indigo guys, mainly because they’re some of my favorite people in the world to fish with and just be around. You will not regret it if you do book a trip, but do it early because they fill up and you’ll be shit out of luck. One last word of caution if you do think about heading to Beaver Island with a boat and a truck. Cost. It’s much cheaper to book a full day with one of the Indigo guys than it is to have a boat ferried over. Much cheaper. Taking a boat and truck over will make your wallet go into seizures. Remember that and book a trip with them to make life better for your wallet.
Mike Sepelak said, Excellent. A realistic fishing report. It’s good to see someone fess up and admit that every trip isn’t epic. Truth is, most are not. But that’s okay because it just makes the one that are that much better.
Good stuff, Dave.
In reply to Mike Sepelak, Dave said, Thanks, Mike. I missed a lot I’m sure but I hope I got the meat of it out there.
In reply to Dave, Mike Sepelak said, Looks like you nailed it, Dave. I could relate perfectly.
Kevin said, No not every trip is a biblical experience. Who would want them to. To much of that and the next thing you know epic is the new suck. Sounds like you enjoyed it . Death to all the blood suckers!
Big Pike Flies said, You could have saved allot of money and come to Iowa. Plenty of mosquitoes and no fish.
Rob from b-town said, Very nice. Thanks for sharing this experience.
I have to agree with you that Beaver Island is a pretty tough DIY destination. I also have to agree that Kevin, Steve and Austin are some of the best guides around.
Kevin said, I tried leaving you a message on your contact page but it would never except the code??? Anyway I had sent you some flies a while back was wondering if you ever received?
In reply to Kevin, Dave said, It wouldn’t? Crap. I’ll fix it again. I sent you an email a few weeks back when I got the flies. Looks like that email didn’t go through. Been having some email problems lately.