Fishing on Long Lake

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Jeff is one very serious fisherman. Here he is on Long Lake, near his favorite pike spot. Last October, Jeff caught a 38 inch pike near here. A few days ago, Jeff caught a 33 inch pike at the same spot.

Shelly, Jeff (and Julie’s) Great Dane, is also one very serious fisherdog. This is no “I bet when you go fishin’ you keep on a wishin’ the fish don’t bite at ‘yur line” look. Shelly is pure concentration and loving every minute out on the water.

Here’s how the American Kennel Club describes Shelly’s breed:

The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive.

Shelly is a Great Dane with a great loud bark. We tried to capture that bark for you, and as soon as Steve put the microphone near Shelly she went silent. This dignified dog does not bark for show.

What a great day to be fishing!

Ice out? Not yet!

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This is Hillman’s Long Lake on the afternoon of April 19, 2014. Nothing you’re looking at is water (though there is about 10 feet of water rimming the lake, at least on the east side). The ice is thin enough that you can see the color changes in the water underneath. And the drop-offs are clearly visible, at least in the beautiful sunshine of this Saturday before Easter.

Last year on this date, we’d been in kayaks for a few weeks already!

The finches are turning in their drab feathers for their nifty yellow ones. The squirrels are running around the lawn in pairs. Deer are browsing in the yard. They seem to be munching on leftovers from the fall acorn crop. A mother fox ran across County Road 459 just beyond Lake Road. She had a kit in her mouth and headed into a culvert pipe. We watch a huge kettle of about 20 turkey vultures stirring things up above Horseshoe Lake. An adolescent bald eagle, distinctive despite the lack of adult plumage, cruised along the west shore headed toward the Narrows. He circled back and landed on the ice, hopping about for a bit in that eagle-typical wide stance.

So, finally, Spring is here–just a month or so late.

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IMG_0164We need this reminder, since it’s been minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit at the lake this past week. These lovelies are now bundled up in their winter covers, tucked inside the “L” of the dock, with a foot of snow on them.

Michigan is a four-season wonder and that is such a good thing. But winters can be very tough. I hope the black-capped chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, finches and woodpeckers of all sort have stashed enough food and are finding supplement at our winter feeders. Because they, like ourselves and unlike our state bird (the robin), don’t flee from the Michigan winters.

The pike we didn’t catch

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We do not catch fish like this on Long Lake. Other people catch fish like this on Long Lake. If we catch a fish it’s a teeny one. And we hardly ever catch even a teeny one. Of course, we don’t fish in the dedicated way that Jeff does. Jeff and his Great Dane were out on the lake when it was 40 degrees and the wind was blowing and fierce rain squalls were moving through the area.

This is the Northern Pike (Esox Lucius) that Jeff caught near the drop-off pretty much straight off from our dock on Friday October 24th. I saw him pull this fish out of the water as I sat knitting  and warming myself by the fire.  And, in case Jeff’s brother is reading this, this blogger, being first duly sworn, states that she personally measured this fish and it was 38 inches long. If I saw this pike swim by my kayak, I’d be hoping he wouldn’t eat my paddle. If I saw this pike swim by when I was swimming in the lake, I wouldn’t swim in the lake anymore. In fact, just knowing she’s in the lake (most big pikes are female) will make me think twice about dangling my feet off the dock next summer. Jeff released her right after this photo was taken and she swam away lickety-split.

The Northern Pike has a lot of goofy nicknames. Mr. Toothy is one and if an angler reaches in to that mouth to remove a hook, he finds out why. Wikipedia reports another nickname that captures the same quality: Sharptooth McGraw. But my personal fav is snot rocket. If you’ve seen a pike dart away you  know about the rocket part. And the snot part is the slime that covers the pike. It is a protective coating. Careful anglers make sure they don’t handle the fish any more than is absolutely necessary, not because they are squeamish (as I am) but because healthy pike need their mucous coating to avoid skin damage that can lead to death-by-infection.

The other angler on board is Jeff’s 2-year old Great Dane. What a great day to be a dog on Long Lake.

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Hillman’s 2013 Applefest

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Any of my regular readers know how much the loons on Long Lake matter to us. Every chick and every adult is special. This year’s twins are doing fine. Their parents have flown south and the adolescents soon will too. They have been flying low over the water, practicing their take-offs and landings.

This decorative decoy is handcrafted of Northeast Michigan Northern White Cedar. Bob Theiner, who lives on Theiner Trail in Hillman, carved and painted this adult loon with its just-hatched chick. It has landed an honored place at our Long Lake cottage. Here’s our 2013 chicks about a week after they hatched. An excellent interpretation, Bob!

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Theiner, of Bob Theiner Decoys, was a featured maker at this year’s Brush Creek Mill‘s Applefest. Honestly, the Hillman area doesn’t grow many apples (and Posen already has dibs on the potatofest). But we have lots of home-grown talent, like Theiner, a master decoy maker. Here he is–along with his creations:

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We couldn’t be happier with our loon decoy purchase. Theiner’s work is top-notch. If you’re interested in his decoys, leave me a comment. Theiner doesn’t have a website (yet) but I can forward your comment on to him. Also, here’s his decoys Facebook page and his Flicker page.

HIllman did not catch a break on the weather today, but the event was still wonderful. A little rain, OK a lot of rain, just meant more of the event moved indoors. Great hot apple cider, homemade apple dumplings topped with ice cream and caramel, and lots of welcoming folks. Welcomes are something HIllman is especially good at.

Here’s the refurbished Brush Creek Mill, staffed mostly by an army of volunteers.

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You can learn stuff here (yoga, computer skills, weaving), buy stuff at the River’s Edge Gift Shop, stop by and visit with a Montmorency County deputy sometimes, and check out the mill’s small collection of historic objects.

Here’s the view from the mill’s entrance looking toward Hillman’s new bridge, spanning the Thunder Bay River.

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The bridge’s design echoes the design of the historic camelback bridge it replaced.

Even the mill’s mascot was decked out for Applefest.

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There weren’t many apples for sale, but this farm booth had choice vegetables, beautifully displayed. (Check out the quilt covers!) We purchased a big green cabbage, the one behind the frilly leafed one, and will be steaming it for dinner.

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The tomatoes, one of which I ate with lunch, are wonderful. And that’s quite remarkable, this late in the season.

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The inside makers included jelly and jam specialists. Small batches of unique flavors like banana split (banana, pineapple & strawberry) and red velvet apricot plus all the traditional flavors you’d expect.

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There were vendors of vintage pottery. I even “found” my grandmother’s drum table. I’m not kidding, I think I remember putting one of the scratches in it!

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This is a working mill. The water powered wheel is powering the alternator.

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This is the 8th year for Applefest and no Applefest would be complete without…you guessed it…yarnies!

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