Tom Lounsbury: Houghton Lake – a great outdoor paradise with wonderful people

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The Michigan Outdoor Writers Association (MOWA), of which I am a member, were planning to host a conference in Houghton Lake in mid-May 2020. It was something I had really anticipated as I had never tasted it. that the Houghton Lake area has to offer when it comes to outdoor recreation.

There was an incredible list of activities that MOWA members could opt for, which really impressed me. I made reservations immediately by paying full freight for accommodation at the Ohana Resort for my wife, Ginny and I, and opted for a walleye fishing excursion as well as a canoe adventure.


Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic and all of its restrictions put a kibosh on the MOWA conference. There is no doubt that the restrictions linked to the pandemic have had serious financial repercussions on businesses associated with the tourism industry.

Instead of asking for a refund, I requested a “rain check” from the Ohana Resort, which they were grateful for. I had not given up on my desire to see and experience what the Houghton Lake area has to offer; however, it will take me almost a year and a half before I can enjoy my rain check which the Ohana Resort has undoubtedly recently honored, which I really appreciated. The resort is right by the lake and offers a quaint, rustic setting that Ginny and I really enjoyed.

Before I left, I contacted Theresa Ekdom, administrative assistant for the Houghton Lake area tourism office, which covers all of County Roscommon. She enlightened me on all kinds of places and people to look for (a key part of my profession that I really enjoy).

When I mentioned that I was interested in fishing on Houghton Lake, she told me to contact Lyman’s on the Lake Bait and Tackle Shop, which I did, and arranged for a fishing guide is aligned.

We drove to Houghton Lake in the middle of the week, and despite the weekend before we had offered spectacular sunny and balmy weather, it would all literally change overnight to bad ‘monsoon’ type weather that involved a strong and rainy north wind. However, it didn’t cool my mind as I learned to adapt and enjoy new experiences.

I was about to learn something new about Houghton Lake, which I originally assumed was a town but really isn’t. It’s actually a number of townships spanning a winding strip nearly eight miles long along the southern edge of Houghton Lake, which happens to be Michigan’s largest inland lake.

The Ohana Resort is in Prudenville at the east end of the Strip, and Lyman’s on the Lake is at the west end, in I don’t know which township! This gave Ginny and I the opportunity to observe the fact that Houghton Lake has a lot to offer with a wide range of very unique local businesses (which Ginny was keen to check out later). I would find that Houghton Lake has a fairly friendly and close knit community.

Lyman’s on the Lake Bait and Tackle Shop is definitely my kind of place, which I sensed right away when I walked through the door. As well as offering everything you might need to go fishing, it is also a well stocked party shop and certainly has a very warm and friendly atmosphere. It also offers chalets for rent by the lake. When winter arrives, Lyman’s rents ice fishing gear and cabins.

The man who worked behind the counter was Wayne Jaworski, who was going to be our fishing guide the next morning. I also met Kurt Beachnau, owner of the establishment. It was a real pleasure to get to know these people and I was about to discover a lot more.

Kurt showed me a large wooden plaque with brass plaques, some with names, some still vacant, called the Junior Anglers Club Hall of Fame, which was designed to entice 16-year-olds and less to go fishing.

When a child fills out a catch card featuring various species of fish (photos are used as evidence and the fish can be caught anywhere, even in a farm pond), their name is written on the plate. The initial wish was to interest about fifty children, but the plaque now has more than 300 dedicated to fishing.

It was almost closing time when Ginny and I arrived, so we made our arrangements for fishing the next morning. That’s when we found out Wayne had a client to guide for nighttime salmon fishing at Tippy Dam about 70 miles west, something he specializes in, but he assured us that he would be ready and waiting to guide us in the morning. back on Houghton Lake.

Well, folks, the next morning the rain had calmed down a bit, but the wind had not, and even picked up speed with a dreary, cold, gray dawn. As we drove to Lyman’s on the Lake, we got occasional glimpses of the water, which featured respectable white hats. Going fishing, especially by boat, was unquestionably forbidden.

Despite an almost full night of salmon fishing, Wayne Jaworski greeted us at the door as promised. He and his client had hooked 17 fish, and due to the relentless struggle the salmon waged, they had only landed three. He showed us the special equipment used, which consisted of a reel (which looks like a fly fishing reel) called a “center pivot”, which has no drag but gives a nice presentation of the lure. I had heard of it, but this was my first introduction, and I could see that landing big fish with this rig could be a bit difficult and, according to Wayne, a lot of fun!

Instead of fishing, we went to do the best thing on a bad, dreary day and had breakfast instead, and got to know each other better. It turns out Wayne is a veteran and has completed two tours of Iraq as an Army sniper. Originally from Georgia, he moved north to Houghton Lake six years ago and began his career as a fishing guide, as well as working at the bait and tackle shop, and never looked back.

He specializes in night fishing, especially from the shore, not only for salmon, but also for walleye. He showed me a photo of a 27 inch walleye (Houghton Lake), a true “hawg” that he recently caught while fishing from the shore at night.

According to Wayne, the majority of anglers are “day trippers” and don’t know what they’re missing. He also specializes in catching northern pike (one of my favorite fish), as well as guiding and even providing equipment for nighttime carp arch fishing.

Working by day at the bait shop and fishing at night makes me feel like Wayne Jaworski (who calls himself “Jaws”) puts Energizer Bunny to shame. There is no doubt that I look forward to using his services in the future.

I would later meet Jacinda Dady, who works at Lyman and who also owns and operates “Be Water Rentals,” which offers everything from kayaks and paddleboards to pontoons, fishing boats and even party barges. Jacinda likes to say that she swapped her lab coat for Muck Boots three years ago when she quit her career as a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Boats on trailers are also offered for going elsewhere, and they even deliver rental boats to cabins and resorts. Accessibility for people with disabilities is also available.

During the winter, Jacinda also rents a whole fleet of snowmobiles of all brands and models, offers a tour guide service, ice fishing equipment and even has a mechanic who can come to the rescue in the event of a problem. equipment breakdown. She also fully supports the Junior Anglers Club and will be hosting a free ice fishing workshop for kids this winter, with a focus on safety, what equipment to use and how to do it right.

Needless to say, gentlemen, interviewing this amazing woman with a passion for the outdoors and the lifestyle she has chosen left me, well, a little stunned! All I can say is it was a separate honor reunion and I got to know everyone associated with Lyman’s on the Lake Bait and Tackle Shop.

With winter coming too soon, I am definitely considering attending “Tip-up Town,” which takes place annually on Lake Houghton and is scheduled for January 22, 23 and 29, 2022. I might even have get lucky and catch one of these tagged fish in the local fishing competition which runs from March 16, 2021 to March 15, 2022 with amazing prizes.

And if I need ice fishing gear, a slum or a snowmobile, I know where I will stop.

Email Tom Lounsbury at [email protected]


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