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Big laker highlights Make-A-Wish trip on Lake Superior

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fish-pic1By Richard P. Smith – Published in Michigan Outdoor News (August 2015)

Marquette, Mich. — Fishing for trout on Lake Superior is a wish the Make-A-Wish Foundation made come true last month for 17-year-old Christopher Mayes, of Elkton, Kty. Mayes and his parents fished for lake trout with Mitch Mattson’s Shelter Bay Charters. The Make-A-Wish recipient not only caught lake trout, he landed one of exceptional size.

The biggest fish of the day was a 36-pounder that was 43 inches in length. The lunker laker was hooked in 130 feet of water on a brass and silver Johnson spoon at the end of about 700 feet of wire line from a pump rod. These heavy rods and reels filled with wire line were the primary tackle used to get lures down to the depths lake trout occupied in Superior prior to the advent of downriggers. Some anglers still use them with good results.

“The big one was probably the last one we caught,” Mattson said. “I took him out farther than normal because I knew of a good spot. I was getting nervous about the number of fish we caught.

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“I knew it was a big fish when Christopher hooked it. I saw how much he was struggling to reel it in. It’s a lot of work to reel in around 700 feet of wire line with a big fish on the end of it. He brought the fish in 90 percent of the way by himself. When he got it by the back of the boat, it started going from side to side and then he needed a little help.

“That’s when I saw how big the fish was,” Mattson said. “It’s the biggest laker caught on my boat this year. People fish their whole lives and never catch a fish like that.”

Mattson said the biggest lake trout caught from his boat last year tipped the scales at 45 pounds. He also boated a 40-pounder a number of years ago during a fishing tournament.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation was formed to help make wishes come true for youngsters with terminal illness. Christopher was diagnosed with brain cancer March 16 this year, according to his mother, Jessica Mayes. She said 100 percent of her son’s brain tumor was removed during surgery, but doctors told them that the type of cancer he has is aggressive and tends to come back. Christopher is receiving regular chemo and radiation treatments to reduce the chances of the cancer returning.

The trout-fishing trip on Lake Superior with Mitch Mattson was only part of Christopher’s wish that came true. He and his family spent a week in a cabin in the woods at Seney, where they did more fishing and canoeing. They also went to Mackinac Island, which is in Lake Huron, and saw Lake Michigan, too. Part of Christopher’s wish was to see some of the Great Lakes.