May 10, 2016

Family Fishing On Lake Michigan

By Kim Jordan

My husband, Steve, and I have been representing Louisiana Purchase Ranch for a few years.  We attend various sport shows, sharing information on elk and mule deer hunts with an outfitter near Meeker, Colorado.  When we work a booth at the Milwaukee Journal Sport Show in early March, we are always located next to Nicky Boy Charters.  We felt like we got to know Chris and Bob quite well, as these two charter boat captains usually worked the show.  Last spring we decided it was time to book a charter and bring our grandsons along. The boys visit us for a week each summer.  Bob assured us that they enjoy taking out families with children.

We scheduled our week with our grandsons from North Dakota.  Connor, age 9, and Miles, age 7 would visit in August.  We were allowed six fisherman, so we invited our brother-in-law, Jim, and his 7 year-old granddaughter, Kaitlyn, to join us.  Nicky Boy Charters made it easy when it came to booking a hotel.  They handled everything and we got a nice deal on the cost by going through them.

We arrived in Port Washington in the late afternoon before the morning we would be fishing.  Because you need to get to the marina very early, it makes sense to arrive in town the day before.  I had never been to Port Washington before.  This quaint town is about 25 miles north of Milwaukee.  So much history was on display.  I would love to go back and spend more time enjoying this little town.  Once we checked into the hotel, we drove to the marina to find the boat we'd be going out on the next morning.  Once we found it, we stopped for pizza and headed back to the hotel to try to get a good night's sleep.

We set the alarm for very early so we could get to the marina by 5:00.  The hotel caters to fisherman by putting out some of their continental breakfast items early.  We made sure everyone tried to eat something, but it was so early and we were so excited, it was hard to eat much.  Then we drove to the marina and met Captain Bob who was just finishing getting his boat ready to take us out.  The weather was cool, the air was calm, and it was quite foggy.  Captain Bob told us the fishing had slowed down the last couple of days, but he hoped it would pick up for us.  We said our hope was that each of the kids would be able to catch a fish.  For us it wasn't about catching a lot of fish, but having the chance to see the joy and excitement of having Connor, Miles, and Kaitlyn pull in a fish and riding in a very large Lake Michigan boat.

As soon as the boat was heading out, Captain Bob was hard at work putting out the poles.  He usually runs 15 to 17 poles.  He also wanted us to decide who should pull in the first fish and the order after that.  We decided to start with the youngest and work up.  That meant Miles would be first.  Captain Bob was constantly checking his fish locator to see where the fish were.  He noticed they weren't schooled up, but instead were scattered.  That makes it more of a challenge.  He had Miles throw a quarter into the water to bring some luck.  Suddenly, one of the poles had a fish on.  Captain Bob set the hook and showed Miles how to wind it in.  It was hard work for Miles, but he landed a nice fish.  After taking pictures, we helped Miles put the fish on ice in a cooler.  Then Captain Bob showed the kids how to always keep the deck clean with a hose kept on the boat.  He did an excellent job explaining everything to them in a way they could understand.

Next it was Kaitlyn's turn.  She got a quarter from Captain Bob and threw it in.  After some time, another pole had a fish on.  With help from Captain Bob to get things started, Kaitlyn brought in her first fish.  She was excited about her fish, but eventually fell asleep next to her grandpa.  The early morning wake-up call and Dramamine had gotten the best of her.

It was finally Connor's turn!  It is hard being the oldest and waiting for a chance to bring in a fish.  Connor asked if he could throw in a quarter and Captain Bob sent him below deck to get one.  We continued on in the boat for quite some time.  It gave us a chance to talk with our captain and learn more about him.  He actually grew up in Port Washington, but now lives in Rhinelander.  He started working on charter boats 39 years ago.  Thirty-two of those years have been spent as a captain.  He was 18 years old when he got his captain's license.  He first worked for Bill and Jan Nealy who were both teachers.  Bob was a 1st mate.  Bill and Jan decided to buy a second boat and Bob became a captain.  Eventually he bought the business and he did this for 17 years.  Now he enjoys working for Nicky Boy Charters.  He can concentrate on doing the best job he can as a captain and doesn't have the other worries that come with owning a business.

As we were talking, Connor was getting anxious and a bit impatient for a chance to bring in a fish.  He threw out another coin in a different direction from the boat.  Thankfully, a line started going out with a fish on it.  Connor had his turn to bring in a nice sized fish.  Jim, Steve, and I were thrilled.  Our goal to have all three kids reel in fish was achieved.  We decided to start over with the youngest.  We were having so much fun watching the kids, it didn't matter if we as adults brought in a fish.  In time, another fish was hooked.  Miles actually brought in the biggest fish of the day, a good sized salmon. 

The morning went by quickly.  I can't imagine what it would be like if the fish were really biting because there was enough action to keep us all happy.  We headed back to the marina and brought the four fish, a combination of lake trout and salmon, onto the dock to be cleaned.  Captain Bob cleaned them and packaged them up for our coolers.  We all had some good eating fish to take home. 

We said our good-byes and before heading home, we had a late breakfast in town.  We did cook the salmon while the boys were still with us.  They thoroughly enjoyed the fish.  They always taste the best when caught by children who caught them while enjoying the outdoors.  If you are looking for a quality charter service who caters to families, look up Nicky Boy Charters in Port Washington.  You can call them at 1-877-896-5500 or check out their website at www.nickyboycharters.com.