Man fishes Lake Superior on his dream boatOn Lake Superior, Wis. Dale Krocak was just where he wanted to be on a Wednesday morning in late May. On Lake Superior. Trolling for trout and salmon. In his 22-foot C-Dory Cruiser.
By: Sam Cook / Forum Communications Co., INFORUM
On Lake Superior, Wis.
Dale Krocak was just where he wanted to be on a Wednesday morning in late May. On Lake Superior. Trolling for trout and salmon. In his 22-foot C-Dory Cruiser.
Especially in his C-Dory Cruiser.
“I’d been waiting to buy this boat for 20 years,” Krocak said in a lull between fish.
For most of those years, he was too busy working as a foreman for Northland Constructors to justify owning a boat. But when he retired six years ago, he started looking.
Krocak regularly cruised a website of C-Dory owners and followers looking for a used C-Dory that wasn’t in Seattle or Baltimore or Atlanta. When he found one in Door County, Wis., this past August, he e-mailed the owner the same night. A few days later, he drove over to look at it - and trailered it home.
Krocak named it the “Kro’s Nest,” rigged it for Lake Superior trolling and started fishing. A C-Dory, with its enclosed cabin, its upswept bow and little visor over the windows, reminds you of every storybook boat you saw as a kid. This one is creamy white, trimmed in red.
Krocak sometimes has trouble getting away from landings because people keep coming to look at his boat. It’s a handsome thing.
We got away from the landing early on May 25 and headed for Wisconsin waters just outside the Superior (Wis.) Entry. A light east wind wrinkled the surface of Lake Superior’s 45-degree water.
When it was time to put out lines, Krocak turned the driving over to his friend and neighbor, Roger Mehling. Watching the fish locator, Mehling saw lots of little cartoon fish.
“Fish scattered at all depths,” Mehling reported.
“We like that,” Krocak said.
We worked the edge of the “mud line,” the rust-colored water that had entered the lake after recent rains. Several other boats had the same idea. It was going to be a day of dodgeboat.
Krocak put out eight lines (three per angler are permitted in Wisconsin), all on the surface. We trolled Rapala X-Raps, Clackin’ Raps, a jointed floating Rapala and some Cotton Cordell stickbaits. Purple. Orange. Green. Blue. Pink.
We started picking up fish quickly. The action was never fast, but it was steady through early afternoon.
Mehling took the first one and liked what he felt.
“Nice throb on this one, Dale,” he said.
It was a 5-pound lake trout, lean and powerful. Wisconsin allows just one lake trout over 25 inches in a daily limit, so we measured it to know exactly what we had. Twenty-four inches. Into the cooler it went.
The lake was good to us. We picked up two coho salmon, a young Chinook salmon, three lake trout and a steelhead. We released the steelhead, as Krocak always does on Lake Superior. The largest lake trout was a 9-pounder that Krocak got to bring in. He knew right away what he had.
“Big fish,” he said, pumping the rod and taking up line.
It was one of those perfect days on the big lake. Good conversation. Plenty of munchies. Decent action. And a cooler full of fish that would provide excellent grilling later.
In the quiet spells between fish, we did what all Lake Superior anglers do. We told stories. We watched the rod tips quiver against a deep blue sky. We wondered if we should change lures again.
If we grew cool, we stepped into the C-Dory’s ample cabin to warm up.
It was easy to see that Krocak was in a kind of heaven out here in his boat, catching fish, watching the horizon for boat traffic.
When we had had enough, he cranked up both Honda four-stroke 40s, and we made for the Superior entry. As we idled back into the bay, Krocak reached forward and patted the dash of his C-Dory.
“Nice boat,” he said. “I love this boat.”
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Sam Cook is the outdoors writer for the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, a Forum Communications Co. newspaper