I’m fortunate to be able to fish on Strawberry Lake. It is a private lake and ending up there is a serendipitous chain of events that starts with three guys in the early mid 1980’s and hinge on the acquaintance of two guys in the 1990’s.
The three guys in the 1980’s are Doc, Norton and me. Doc and I shared this tiny duplex for a few years. I didn’t fish then and if Aric did, he wasn’t talking about it. I think Scott was a casual fisherman even back then but it wasn’t something that came up in conversation. We mostly worked and played our guitars. Aric knew Scott from before. They went to middle school and high school together. They played the clarinet poorly together. Aric and I worked together, then lived together and soon Scott was long for the ride. So the three of us have been hanging out together since 1984.
This brings us to Captain Ron. Aric’s uncle, Captain Ron is from Ohio but he had a place on some lake in southern Michigan. One of his neighbors on that lake was a guy they call Stub. Stub is getting up there. He’s a tough old fisherman that is still getting his limit plus. He’s always on the move. He couldn’t even stand still long enough to get his picture taken. They’re the two guys from the 1990’s. Stub had acquired his place on Strawberry and his son bought the lot next door and dropped a camper on it. Somewhere along the line, Stub told Ron to come to Strawberry and rent out his son’s camper. Ron rented that camper and after a while bought it. Back then it had power and running cold water if you hooked the hose up to it. It didn’t have a phone at first and when Ron finally gave in and got a cordless, it fell out of his pocket and into the lake. The middle row of numbers didn’t work. How many people do you know that don’t have a 2,5 or 8 in their phone number? It was useless for outbound calls and we were hardly in the camper to hear it ring anyway.
In 1997 Aric and Scott started going up to Strawberry to stay in Captain Ron’s camper. They asked me to go but I was pretty convinced that I was not a fisherman. I would finally give in to the peer pressure in the fall of 1999. I’m glad I did.
Strawberry Lake isn’t huge but it was remote. Initially, Captain Ron’s camper didn’t have telephone. It is still nearly impossible to get a cell signal up there. It was what we called primitive plus. It wasn’t camping in a tent but not far from it. I remember stopping at a gas station on the way home one time and marveling at the sensation of hot water!
For the first few years, we hardly saw anybody on that lake. It was like we had it all to ourselves. It is a great package. Fishing is almost always good. The scenery is calming and beautiful. This is where you can truly get away from it all.
In 2003, Doc bought a place on Strawberry. It is the nicest lot on the lake with a wide lake front and amazing southern exposure. Every summer you’ll find loons on the lake. Their calls sound really cool in the twilight.
Doc’s place is very comfortable, maybe too comfortable. We don’t fish as much as we did when we stayed in the camper. Sometimes I miss those 18 hour days on the pontoon. Maybe we’re getting to old to do that anyway.
Captain Ron has become the caretaker of Strawberry Lake. He his always painting something or cleaning something up or mowing somebody’s grass. He knows all the local lake politics and one of my favorite parts of the trip is when Ron comes by and brings us up to speed on the news of the lake. Garrison Keillor could learn a few things from Captain Ron.
Well that is a condensed overview of Lake Strawberry and how we ended up there. I’m sure Ron could tell you more.