Sleep never comes easy when you’re building the next great tech giant from scratch. Every idle moment gets overwhelmed with a flood of notions, fears, and phone calls. You know what I’m talking about. Those extra hours you squeeze out every day and all that risk you carry on your back are killers. Keep pushing and something’s gotta give—brain, body, business—one of them goes belly up for sure. What’s that I hear? That won’t happen, you say? Believe me, whenever you tough it out too long, your personality gets so severe that nobody can stand working with you. From time to time, a CEO has to refresh, rejuvenate, reboot. You know it and I know it, so listen up.
PERSONAL NOTE FROM LOOP LONAGAN: Yeah it’s me, all right. Don’t sound like it though, does it? The new guy, Shakes, worked it over real good, after I dictated the thing. Gotta make dat guy my reglar editor!
NOTE FROM WILLIAM SHAKES: “You speak an infinite deal of nothing, but for my own part, it was Greek to me.” (Translation: No problemo.)
So how do you decompress? Ditch the cell phone for three days. Escape that smelly city! Do something outrageous in God’s Creation! For me, that’s fly-fishing the great annual salmon run. Ever catch a 40-pound salmon on a fly rod? It’ll knock the stuffing out of your stress level real fast. It’s a thrill you won’t forget—ever.
Jim Kren and Joe Perogi gape at the river
This is a hundred percent good. Think of it—strategy sessions, mapping out your attack—the adventure of wading a wild stream in the dark in hunt of your prey—the tactical skill of delicately casting a fly made by your own hands—the adrenalin rush of a monster king salmon striking your line—the physical strain of fighting a powerful fish for half an hour in the heavy current, line in hand—the catharsis and lasting satisfaction after a long battle. Whoa! As my football hero, Steve McMichael says, “That’s the juice, baby!”
The legendary Pere Marquette River
Maybe you’ve heard about great fishing like that in Alaska and always wanted to go—but you can’t spare the time right now. Hey—who can? Well, lemme ask you: Can you invest a weekend? I’ve found a place with rugged beauty and lots and lots of huge king salmon that’s an easy drive from Chicago. Leave on Friday, back on Sunday. That’s right—your first excuse doesn’t hold any water.
But maybe you don’t know how to fish with a fly rod. Hey, you’re a talented entrepreneur, right? Given a little gumption, you can do anything. Well relax—at this place, somebody’ll teach you, and believe me, you’ll learn. So this second excuse won’t pass muster either.
Kren can’t tie a knot
But maybe you don’t own the right gear. Well, there are two fly shops in town, so that excuse falls flat too. But, but… At some point, you gotta stop making silly excuses. Either find a way to let off some steam or drag your fledgling venture into a ditch out of sheer personal exhaustion. That’s not what you want, so here’s the place to go:
Every September, thousands of salmon swim upstream to spawn in the rivers feeding the Great Lakes. They show up, nice and prompt, as if they scheduled an appointment—like they carefully set a loud alarm on their smart phone calendars so they wouldn’t stand you up. The greatest of these waterways is Michigan’s wild, beautiful, and legendary Pere Marquette River in the Manistee Forest. Fly fishing only. Catch and release. So guess why there’s so many fish.
Get your butt out to Bueter’s Salmon Camp near Baldwin Michigan—an easy drive from Chicago. It’s a famous annual event that draws like-minded anglers, all itching to learn new skills and teach the ones they know, and it’s really informal. Pitch your tent. Sit around the campfire. Eat barbeque. Drink bourbon. Tell lies. Soak in the camaraderie of other eager and intense fishermen. The motto of camp is, “This is too much fun to keep to ourselves.” Everybody has a good time.
I drove up with our magazine staff and I’m fishing with Jim Kren and Joe Perogi (His real name’s J. P. Pierogiczikowski but nobody can pronounce it.) For two nights, we make our assault on the river, led by renowned fly fisherman, John Bueter. He deploys his troops along the stream, each casting to pods of active salmon. This year, the kings average 20 pounds and we hear reports of monsters over forty caught offshore. I’m expecting great things and great things happen.
Fish keep their appointment
This is my first night and I’m casting to an active group of fish holding in an area rimmed by fallen trees. A big one takes my fly and the fight is on. This one’s huge and strong and tests the limits of my tackle. I gotta follow where he goes until he finally tires out, or else he’ll peel all the line off my reel. It happens.
Pump that rod
Perogi sees all the splashing and commotion and wades over to help. He tries to net my salmon, but it does a 180, swims between my legs, and snaps my fly rod—like one of those close encounters you hear about sometimes. Hey, no problem—a fly rod’s just a tool—I got another. But this bad boy is still hooked, so I fight him hand-over-hand till one of us gives way. It’s either him or me.
Now he’s in the net and we’re dumbstruck by the size of him. I can’t even circle his tail with both my hands—this one’s huge—way bigger than I’ve ever seen. I haul him toward shore to clean off any extra hooks when, wham, he breaks through the net. So there’s no picture of this trophy, but at least I got a witness who says, “Yeah, it really happened,” and “No, you’re not crazy.” There’s plenty of time left to fish for more. And I do.
A close encounter
After a couple nights of this, I’m tired, happy, and satisfied. It’s back to business with a new level of energy and clearheaded judgement. Join me at Camp this year!
When & Where
Salmon Camp runs September 27-29. Show up Friday afternoon, go home Sunday afternoon. Come a day early if you want—there’s always room for another happy camper. Call or email your Master of Salmon Mayhem, John Bueter, so he makes enough barbeque.
Land line 231-745-3070
Get your butt down to this address.
3360 South M37
Baldwin, MI 49304
(Behind Cloud 9 Resort)
Cost is $135. That’s right—tent site, showers, toilets, a barbeque dinner, a lumberjack breakfast. All for a hundred thirty five bucks! Save your money for fishing gear.
Don’t own the gear yet? No time to shop? Spend a couple hours at Baldwin Bait & Tackle (BBT) or Orvis after you get to camp. They’re right in Baldwin. Show them this list and put yourself in their hands:
- Michigan all-species 3-day fishing license (you can print it online)
- Big Dog Fly Rod (8-9-10 wt) a spare is not unwise
- Quality Fly Reel with super-smooth drag
- Sink-Tip Fly line (6-12 feet of anything from T6 to T11)
- 12 to 20 pound tippet
- Lots and lots of flies (Max hook size 4, single point.)
- Nippers, Pliers (Hemostats are worthless here)
- Flashlight and Headlight – Important!
- Rain Gear
- Tent, Sleeping bag
- Don’t Forget yer Bubba
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