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FISHING FOR A STORY

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Dan Madru nets a 23-pound salmon for his daughter Melanie.   Photo by Connie Madru.On location, Newaygo Michigan.

 

Newaygo, Michigan lies just about four hours north of Waynedale. You can get there by going north on 69 to Marshal, then west to Kalamazoo, north to Howard City and then west again to Newaygo. The Muskegon River flows through Newaygo. It begins at Houghton Lake, and flows southwest through a number of small towns before emptying into Lake Michigan, at Muskegon.

I first heard about Newaygo while working at the rolling mill at Phelps Dodge. Back in the early seventies a bunch of mill hands were going up there to fish for salmon. They invited me along and I have been going infrequently ever since. The Salmon come out of Lake Michigan and swim upstream against the strong Muskegon current to spawn. As the salmon move upstream, their spawn attracts lake trout, rainbow, and browns. With that many fish, the river also attracts fishermen.

The salmon start their run in early to mid October, depending on the coldness of the weather. The leaves are all beginning to turn, and it is a beautiful time of year. After distributing the Waynedale News, Friday, (October 12th), I loaded my camping gear and fishing tackle and headed north to Newaygo. My friends Dan and Connie Madru left the previous Tuesday to set up camp. They have been setting up camp along the Muskegon since 1985. For them it is a family camp-out. They used to take their kids with them, but now they set up camp and their kids bring their grandkids for a weekend of fishing.

I arrived about dark Friday evening. There were already twenty people in camp. A large campfire was burning and it was great seeing all the regulars. Boyd and Kate Tarney were there as well as Rick and Sharon Meyers, of Meyers Engine Rebuilding. The owner of the property, Dan Klosterman, from Kalamazoo, had his camper set up. My tent was up in just a few minutes and then it was time for rest and relaxation. I walked down by the river; it was comforting to just stand there and watch and listen.

Dan, Connie, and the rest of the camp had already had a considerable amount of luck, as there were a number of salmon on ice. We sat around the campfire and talked of old times together.

Saturday morning we put our waders on and got our gear together. We caught a boat ride downstream to a flat where we could see the salmon working. It was good to be fishing again. About a half-hour into the morning, I slipped in some loose sand and took a quick swim. The water is plenty cold this time of year, but my waders and long underwear kept me warm so it wasn't too uncomfortable.

"Spider" Carman caught the first fish and Boyd did a nice job of netting it. That was one on the stringer for our group of four. I hooked into a nice salmon, but after a quick and fierce battle, I lost the fish to the swift current. I had tried to hurry the fish, and in the Muskegon, about the best you can do is hold ground while someone else goes downstream to net it. Spider later picked up another salmon. His daughter Jill, even though she proved herself brave enough to fight the river, didn't have any luck with the fish. Saturday noon the rain started, and it rained and rained and rained. Dan Madru had set up an awning structure and it kept us dry. Dan's daughter Melanie McClain, landed the biggest salmon. It was 39.5 inches long and weighed 23 pounds. We fished through the rain on Saturday. It was nice when it finally quit on Sunday morning. We broke camp later that day, and then it was back to Waynedale to begin work on another issue of the Waynedale News.

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