Take A Summer Lighthouse Tour in Pure Michigan

Did you know that Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state? With the official start of summer just days away, it’s the perfect time to plan a Michigan lighthouse tour. More than 115 lighthouses are scattered up and down the coasts of Pure Michigan, guiding sailors and capturing imaginations. Some still shine for ships, others share their stories with us first-hand as museums, as bed and breakfasts and as Michigan history in the making.

Take a look at the listing below for a sampling of what you can discover while touring Michigan’s lighthouses, and learn more in the following video from the Pure Michigan summer video series.

A complete listing of Michigan’s lighthouses can be found on michigan.org.

Au Sable Light Station
Grand Marais
The AuSable Light Station is listed on the national register of historic places. It was built in 1874 to warn mariners of a dangerous reef off of the AuSable Point. Now automated, the light station is being restored to its 1910 appearance. Guided tours are offered July and August. The grounds are always open, but access is limited by snow from November – April. Visit the website to learn more.

Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast
Big Bay
One of the few surviving resident lighthouses in the country, guests enjoy a half-mile of Lake Superior shore, viewing tower, sauna, library and fireplaces. Enjoy biking, waterfalls, skiing and snowmobiling nearby. Summer lighthouse tours  and booking information are available here.

Point Betsie Lighthouse
Frankfort
The Point Betsie Lighthouse is the oldest standing structure in Benzie County. The lighthouse was built in 1858, and marks the all-important entrance to the southern end of the Manitou Passage, a once-vital maritime shipping channel. Learn more on the Point Betsie website.

South Haven Lighthouse
South Haven
An image of maritime heritage, South Haven’s Lighthouse on the south pier still stands today as a vision of seemingly magical qualities. Built in 1903, this distinguished landmark has welcomed travelers for more than 100 years. Start planning your trip here

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse
Harrisville
Sturgeon Point Lighthouse is located five miles north of Harrisville on Lake Huron and was completed in November 1870. The tower is 70 feet, 9 inches tall and is 16 feet in diameter at its base. The light is 3.5 order Fresnel lens made in Paris, France. The light is still maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The keeper’s house is now a maritime museum which is open to the public from Memorial Day to mid-September. The lighthouse tower and the grounds are also open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
Port Huron
The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It was established in 1825 and rebuilt in 1829 and 1861, at the time it was also the first lighthouse on Lake Huron and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Michigan. It helps keep watch over Lake Huron at the entrance to the St. Clair River. The 86 ft. light stands above the lake level in a conical stone tower, overlaid with red brick that has been painted white. The keeper’s cottage and fog whistle house are red. Tower climbs and tours are available during business hours, weather permitting. See the Port Huron Museum website for information on tours and group overnights in the restored Duplex building for 20+ people.

How many Michigan lighthouses have you visited? Share with us below!

Take to Michigan’s Lakes and Rivers this Summer

Fishing is a popular sport in Michigan year-round, especially in the spring and summer when the warmer weather makes it the perfect time to spend your days out on the water. And with Michigan’s annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend happening this weekend, June 8-9, there’s no better time to experience fishing in Pure Michigan.

For those heading out for the first time or if you’re just looking for tips on reeling in the best catch, we spoke with Captain Denny from Fish N’Grin Charter Service for his insight. Read from him below and learn more in the following video on fishing in Michigan from the Pure Michigan Summer Video Series.

Variables and information

Sky color, water color, surface temperature, thermocline, wave height, wind direction, current, time of season, time of day, moon phase and type of fish available are all variables that impact your ability to catch fish on any given day.

Besides the usual sources of information from local tackle shops, news media or someone that has been out recently, today’s technology can provide real time, useful information. Web sites such as GLOS, NOAA and Coastwatch can provide real time information on offshore temperature breaks, surface temperature, water column temperature, currents, wave height, wind and speed direction. Keep these sites in your favorites, learn how to use them and keep records for future reference.

You will never control all the variables, but sound information can make most of them work for you.

Troll angle and speed

Troll angle and speed may be the two most important things to pay attention to. I believe it’s more important than bait or gear selection.

A GPS and a downrigger speed and temp probe are a must. Changing troll angle (boats heading) by as little as 5 or 10 degrees may make all the difference in the world in your hook up rate.

A speed of about 2.5 to 2.8 MPH is a good starting reference using a variety of baits and gear, and pay attention to speed when you get a strike.

Also, try to match your GPS speed with the speed indicated at the cannon ball and see that all you lines run straight behind the boat. GPS speed is important in that you want to cover as much ground as possible in the shortest period of time.

Monkey see, monkey do

Ever go out early in the morning and see a group of boats all trolling a congested area? You may think that must be where the fish are. They may be or they might not.

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Imagine that the first couple boats go out and set up, and then several other boats coming out see them, soon everyone is fishing in a pack for no other reason than “this must be where they are”.

You can do just as well, and often times better, by avoiding the pack and trolling a path that no one has cut yet, with a lot less aggravation.

The first bite

Chinook salmon are notoriously veracious feeders just as the sun comes up, while running out look for suspended bait or bait near the bottom.

Set your gear just outside and slightly above the bait and troll along that edge, then prepare your crew for the upcoming frenzy.

Bites off!

Or is it? On a clear morning the bite slows or stops entirely, usually around 8 or 9 a.m.

This is a critical decision time. Do you stay where you had your bites, move in or head out?

If you time your out troll as the fish begin to move offshore you can stay right with them and continue to get bites.

Don’t leave fish to go fish

An old cliché, but it’s still true.

You are catching fish, you see them on your fishfinder, but your buddy is doing better (so he says) or you hear that other boats are doing well at a different location.

Moving away from your fish seldom works; you cannot be certain of what the other boats may be using or even if the information is accurate, their fish may turn off by the time you arrive.

Meat rigs

Using live bait or cut herring strips is not a new concept. It has gained wide popularity on the Great Lakes in recent years – and for good reason, it will catch fish when nothing else seems to work and usually catches bigger ones.

A variety of meat rigs are now commercially available, along with frozen herring. A sturdy roller guide rod, a line counter reel filled with braided wire and a magnum dipsy diver are essential. I use an 8 inch paddle ahead of the meat rig because it seems more speed friendly. Chose UV colors on both rig and paddle, set the diver at 1 for a two to one depth ratio. For example, if desired depth for your bait is 100 feet, let out 200 feet of wire.

Captain Denny Grinold is a Michigan native and accomplished fisherman who currently owns Denny’s Auto Diagnosis and Fish ‘N’ Grin Charter Service in Lansing, Michigan. Grinold is a United States Coast Guard Licensed 100 Ton Master Operator on all U.S. Waters, USPS Advanced Pilot, United States Advisor to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, chosen as Outdoor Life’s “Top 20 anglers on the Planet” and most recently was the recipient of the Michigan Steelhead Salmon & Fishermen’s Association’s annual Howard A. Tanner Award for dedication and contribution to Michigan’s sport fishery industry.

Are you heading out for Free Fishing Weekend? Share with us below and learn more at michigan.org.