After a 13-hour drive, I picked up Chris LeMessurier in Detroit. We hit the road at first light and drove another five hours north. Then we loaded my over-stuffed truck onto a massive ferry for the last two hours to reach Beaver Island, smack dab in the middle of Lake Michigan.
The whole drive to Beaver Island, Chris was telling me stories of clear water, blue skies and epic smallie fishing. With no one else on the road and no sign of another fisherman, I grew more excited the closer we got to the campsite. In fact, there were so few anglers, that I got a little suspicious that Chris’ fish stories might really be fish stories.
Turns out the fish stories were true. But Chris had neglected to tell me the mosquito stories.
As soon as I got out of the truck, I was swarmed. Mosquitoes, Jurassic mosquitoes. Clouds of them. I slathered my face with enough DEET to eat a hole in my jacket and sting my skin, but had no effect on the bloodsuckers.
That night, we had to pick mosquitoes out of our food. I got good at blowing black bodies off my beer bottle before taking a glug. Still, I missed a few. They slid down my throat on a wave of cold beer.
Before crawling into my truck bed for the night, I sprayed it full of DEET and closed the windows. When I opened the gate, bugs stampeded out. Then I spent an hour killing mosquitoes before I crashed into sleep with my face burning and a mosquito still buzzing in my ear.
The next morning we hit the water in a hurry. Once I reached the middle of the lake, the bugs dropped away. I was so relieved, I almost forgot why I was there. On my first cast, the bugs and the miles vaporized as a huge bass exploded on my lure. The next cast and another fish. Every cast earned a big, fat, beautiful bass. I fished all day; the fish were biting and the bugs were not.
As the sun slipped behind the trees, we had to call it a night and head back to the campsite. I knew I was going to pay for awesome fishing with fresh blood. Still, I figured it was worth the price.
Ben Duchesney is the former web editor at kayakanglermag.com. When he tells stories about Beaver Island, he never mentions the mosquitos.