Jul 22 2010 5:57 pm

the toad life

The ferry sucked cars off the dock in Charlevoix for thirty minutes before I climbed on and plowed over 31 miles of upper Lake Michigan.  Kevin was waiting on the dock.  A few hundred feet away was a bar.  They had Short’s Huma-Lupa-Licious on draft so I had one of those which might have been a mistake because I hadn’t eaten anything all day and that beer is on the strong side so I picked up a good buzz straight away.  Steve wasn’t back from his trip yet so we went to another pub and had a few more beers, some wings and a big bowl of fish chowder that was white but seemed yellow I think because it was so buttery.  Finally caught up with Steve and went back to that second pub and had more beers and I had the local perch fry which was pretty great. 

In a fit of fascination Kevin insisted we go to the three day music festival.  We stopped and got some beer and a bottle of Popov, loaded up the cooler and hit the road. Turns out there are actually a lot of roads on Beaver Island though most are dirt.  Many residents have island cars: no license plate, rough around the edges, old.  It’s hard to get kicked off the island but it can happen.  We shot south through fields not wearing seatbelts sipping vodka tonics, jumped off the asphalt and onto the dirt, diving into the woods where all the leaves on the side of road were coated in a thin film of gray dust. 

We turned onto a two track in a tunnel of trees and cars were pulled off into the woods and there were hippies everywhere, dusty tent cities, a row of booths with fortune tellers and jewelry vendors and a wooden stage in a big hole in the woods on a small island in a big lake and a bonfire and a few hundred people milling around with drinks in their hands.

We ran out of the harbor and between different islands idling from four hundred yards out then cutting the engine in two foot of water where the rock and sand flats stretched far away dropping off abruptly into the deep blue and green water in the distance.  Both the giant smallmouth and the carp are spooky as hell on these flats but the smallmouth spook only for a second, usually coming back to check out whatever it was that made all that noise. The carp, on the other hand, spook out on a bad cast and won’t take a fly again for weeks probably.  The smallmouth fishing up there is ridiculous.  Absolutely stupid.  The fish are all big and they are everywhere in shallow water. 

The waves build toward the end of the day and the run back to the harbor can be a shade rough but apparently 2-3 foot seas ain’t shit up there.  The points of my ribcage hurt from sleeping on the floor.  The whole trip was pretty surreal.

Check out this video on Third Coast Fly.  Have no fear, I’ll have the adults-only version up here sooner than later.


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