June 18, 2011

HORSESHOE REVISITED or Give em a Broadside

Bill Matteson
Uptown Chicago History Correspondent
June 18 2011

Some time in the early 70s, Salmon were introduced to the Great Lakes, and the lake front fishermen went crazy. We could catch Jumbo perch about 1 lb, or salmon 5 lbs and up. The Lake Michigan charter boat business was born. Now the problem was, they had no experience fishing for salmon, hadn't the slightest idea of how or where to catch them. So they would troll along the lake front with outriggers, downriggers, planner boards, flat lines and just about anything imaginable.

The Horseshoe fisherman had enough problems without putting up with these pesty charter boats. Large salmon would hit on a trolley and run, taking most of the gear and/or messing it all up, and if that didn't happen, the charter boat would come too close and their down riggers would pull up all the gear

This added to everyone's frustration, and a lot of insults and threats of physical violence were hurled back and forth. It was at this time the trolley fisherman had to put away his trolley gear and power line fishing became more common.

Power line is a 10 foot rubber band that had a 12 to 1 stretch ratio. The rubber attached to a 2 once weight, thrown out two hundred feet, and then pulled in slowly bia stretch hooks every 12", baited, and then let back out via stretch the line then attached to bell. When a salmon hit, it was easier to pull in.

Like I said before, the Horseshoe fisherman was an inventive lot , how did we get the claws and weight out two hundred feet or more? Most had the "Polish Cannon," a tube fired by lighter fluid. The weight wrapped in kleenex (biodegradable) was used.

One day the charter boats were all coming too close to the pier, as if they were doing it on purpose.
Everyone with a cannon lined up on the lake side of the pier, and when the boats came by, they got a broadside.  Bam. bam. bam.

It was like an old pirate movie, and we were all Errol Flynn. Tennis balls and potatoes. T.hey stayed away the rest of the day. Cops came and couldn't find any polish cannon.

A few weeks later they were outlawed..That's when we discovered that CO2 fire extinguishers worked better.

My power line gear is packed away, next to my trolley gear, and right next to a lot of great memories.
Maybe I'll get to the lake this summer, take the grandkids.

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