Five decades fishing with Susie


Susie was a city girl when we first met. If she had known what kind of activities I would expose her to in the next 50 years, she might have reconsidered marrying me.

Our first trip away from home was 1,100 miles away at a remote fishing camp in northwestern Ontario.

It was boat in or fly in, no roads.

When we were there, we were stuck there for a week until the boat carried us back to our car.

If she didn’t enjoy the activities in a wilderness, we were both in for a long seven days.

Story continues below photos.

At that time, fishing wasn’t high on her list. She had probably caught a handful of bluegill in her lifetime.

I loaded our gear into the boat, looked at a map of the lake, and headed about 10 minutes from camp.

I didn’t want to get too far in case she demanded to return to the cabin.

I rigged her pole with a Mepp’s spinner, showed her how to cast it toward a nearby weed bed, and waited.

About three cranks of the reel handle later, she was fighting a small northern pike.

When the fish landed in the bottom of the boat, I grabbed the pliers to remove the hook.

Susie was hollering, “Hurry up!” So, I unsnapped the lure and attached another Mepp’s to her line so she could resume fishing.

This continued until she had six northerns in the boat. All with lures still in their mouths.

She was catching a two- or three-pound pike on almost every cast.

From that day on, Susie was the one who was “hooked.”

Now, if I mention fishing, she is already in the truck asking what is taking me so long.

Our next major fishing outing was to Florida for a deep-sea adventure.

Her family lived there, and we were accompanied by her dad and three brothers on the boat.

In what turned out to be a regular happening, Susie caught the biggest fish of the day.

Our charter was trolling about eight lines when something big grabbed Susie’s bait. It immediately started tearing line from the reel very quickly.

The mate told the rest of us to begin reeling in all the other lines.

The line on her reel continued to peel off until there was not a lot left on the spool. The mate yelled at the captain to put the boat in neutral so she could try to regain some of the line. It continued to go out.

When the backing began showing, the captain had to reverse the boat and began chasing the fish before she ran out of line. The fish finally tired, and Susie began to slowly reel in some line.

After probably an hour, the fish was brought to the boat and landed. It was a 25-pound wahoo.

We were told this species had the fastest first run of any fish in the ocean.

We continued fishing, and by the end of our charter, we had landed 44 fish of assorted species, the smallest of which was just over 10 pounds.

After that, Lake Michigan was on our calendar for an annual spring outing for coho salmon.

We would usually bring home our limit, which ended up on the grill or in my smoker. Smoked salmon is great!

Every summer was a return to the Canadian resort where we first started.

Walleye, smallmouth bass and musky became our main targets, with northerns being a common catch without trying.

An occasional lake trout was added to our later dinners.

Lake Erie was added to our choice of fishing spots.

We found Chautauqua Lake in western New York was a great choice for walleye and large musky.

Then, we were introduced to the lower Niagara River. Some of our best fishing was done there. Twenty-pound salmon, a nine-pound walleye, five- and six-pound smallmouth bass, and 10- to 20-pound sturgeon fell to our lures at this location.

Just downstream from there was Lake Ontario. A thirty- pound salmon from this lake hangs on our wall.

My brother moved from northern Ontario to Rainy River, Ontario, right on the Minnesota/Canada border. Baudette, Minnesota, is on the U.S. side, and we began staying at assorted resorts on Lake of the Woods.

All of the great Canada fishing we had enjoyed over the years can be found here, plus lake sturgeon are here also. These fish can exceed six feet long, and the record is more than 300 pounds. With the help of our guides, we have caught several here, but ours were much smaller.

On our 25th anniversary, we were catching salmon on Lake Michigan. This summer, we will celebrate our 50th anniversary. That day will find us on water somewhere. Lake of the Woods, the lower Niagara River or a deep-sea fishing trip are highest on our planning list at this time.

Rich Creason is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer whose work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications for 40 years. Born in Anderson, he is a graduate of Markleville High School. He lives in South Madison County with his wife, Susie. He may be contacted at [email protected].

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