Regular monthly meetings keep our members informed of current research, regulatory, changes, and management decisions that may affect Michigan’s Fishery. In addition, anglers share fishing reports and stories, along with the secrets of their fishing success. Meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the every month at Mona Lake Boating Club, 372 Randall Road, Muskegon, MI 49441. All meetings are open to the public and non-alcoholic beverages are supplied at no cost to members and guests. Snacks are available for a minimal charge. Social hour starts at 6:30 p.m.
Monthly speakers are selected from state fishery biologists, professional and amateur fishermen, bait shop owners, and other experts in fishery or environmental related activities, with emphasis on educating and encouraging participation in the local fishery and environment. By sharing their secrets and expertise on current research, regulatory changes, and MDNR management decision that may affect the Michigan fishery, these experts help us all become better sportsmen. A few of our past speakers have included:
- Jeff Alexandar, who spoke of his book, Michigan The Majesty and Tragedy of Michigan’s Rarest River
- Michigan DNR Officer, Chris Simpson
- Dr. Dave Janetski, who presented ten years of perch population data from Muskegon Lake, along with some interesting theories drawn from his studies.
Our events have a mixed target for participation, with River and Surf Tournaments offered for the avid anglers, a Powder Puff specifically geared for women, and Trout Ponds and the Pig Roast aimed at families and children. Our club Event Calendar tells a lot about our involvement in the community:
- Board Election – Our board is chosen by club members in a general election. Our board serves 4-year alternating terms, with 1/3 of the board replaced or re-elected each year.
- Club Officer Elections – Our club’s officers are chosen annually by the board, at the first regularly scheduled board meeting following the Board Election.
- Ed Subler Memorial Fishing Derby – Open to the public, categories include perch, walleye, pike, crappie, steelhead, and kids (bluegill & perch). Several raffles are also provided for nominal fee, with prizes of hunting, fishing and boating equipment, cash, overnight stays at local hotels, and gift certificates.The prizes for this event, approximately $10,000, are all purchased from and/or donated by local businesses, with club volunteer members spending several months in preparation. This is our largest event of the year and the one where we have the opportunity to make contact with numerous area Anglers.
- Ultimate Sports Show – A booth at this show at Devos Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan provides us with an opportunity to partner with the Charter Boat Association to help raise money for a free veterans-only charter boat trip on Lake Michigan in May. This sports show is a four-day event and, although the planning is relatively easily taken care of during the previous month by only 2 or 3 members, the actual show requires nearly 300 man-hours of participation.
- River & Surf Spring Steelhead Contest – This 17-hour event is aimed at the avid angler, who enjoys the thrill of catching “Steelies” within casting distance from shore. Fishing is limited to connecting waters of Lake Michigan that are open to the public. Snacks, beverages and freshly grilled steelhead are offered at the weigh-in. This event involves simple planning and advertising with 1 – 2 members, plus another 2-3 volunteers needed the last few hours to assist with weigh-in, food service and clean-up.
April – May
- Salmon-Rearing Net Pens – MAA, in partnership with the Michigan DNR, maintains salmon net pens, raising fingerlings until they “smolt”, then releasing them to migrate to the big lake. By raising the fingerlings in this manner, they are imprinted to Muskegon’s river system and according to scientific data, will return to the imprinted port when the time comes to reproduce and die. Brochures and signage is readily available to visitors explaining the project and educating people about the life cycle of salmon. MAA’s net pens have been purchased, maintained and used specifically for the purpose of raising these baby salmon. Volunteers tow and set up our net pen at the rearing location and assist the hatchery with delivery of 50,000 – 100,000 (numbers vary) fingerling salmon into their new home. For the following four to six weeks, 2 – 3 volunteers feed the fingerlings a specialized food product 2 – 3 times daily and check on their well-being and the stability of the pen. When the DNR determines that the fingerlings have “smolted,” they are released for migration to Lake Michigan. Our volunteers then take down the pen, tow it to the designated storage location, and clean and repair both net and frame in preparation for the following year.
- Armed Forces Salmon Assault’s Veterans Free Charter – This Veteran’s Day fishing trip is provided by the Muskegon Charter Boat Association and is the culmination of our joint fund-raising efforts during February’s Ultimate Sport Show. Veterans are taken out for a free big-lake charter trip and then treated to fish cleaning, speakers and a meal when they return to shore. Every veteran goes home with a portion of the total fish caught. Veterans are selected by raffle, with the actual number of winners determined by the available capacity of participating boats. In 2012, for example, 77 veterans went out on 18 boats for a fantastic fishing experience. All monies remaining at the end of the tournament are donated to local veteran-based facilities. Although this tournament is actually a project of the Armed Forces Salmon Assault, MAA participates through donations, fund-raising, fish cleaning and clean-up after the event. Some of our members are joint members of both organizations and are also involved in the boat/charter donation.
- Pheasants Forever Outdoor Youth Rendezvous – This all-day event, at Muskegon County Fairgrounds, is a time to introduce our youth to many outdoor sporting events, such as hunting and fishing. Free to all youth, the event allows young people to sample the various sports, recognize animals and habitat, and educates them in safety and environmental management. MAA provides the trout ponds for this event, along with prizes for specially marked fish caught from the pond. The event requires 5 – 7 people for approximately three hours to set up the pond, 20 – 30 volunteers to bait hooks, clean and bag fish, and provide directions for safe and fun fishing during the 6-hour event, and 5 – 7 people at the end for another 2 – 3 hours of clean-up and tear-down.
- MAA Salmon Tournament – This event is provided for the salmon fishermen in our group. Prizes are determined by total weight of the first 5 salmon and/or trout caught by each boat (rod limits apply to equalize variances in boat capacity) on Lake Michigan and connecting waters. Like the River/Surf Contests, it involves fewer man-hours and planning than some of the larger events, but helps the club to maintain variety in its membership interests.
- Tri-Port Salmon Shootout – This event, actually sponsored and promoted by other local organizations, is a part of the 3-state Tri-Port Pro-Am Salmon Fishing Tournaments. The event brings professional charter boaters and amateur fishermen together for a huge boost to the local economy, providing a one-day “Powder Puff” for women and children and a two-day “Pro-Am” joint tournament for the avid salmon fishermen. Many of the fish caught in this tournament are donated (Saturday’s fish are REQUIRED to be donated) and MAA provides transportation, cleaning, packaging, and delivery of the fish to local food pantries. In 2012 alone, this amounted to over 4,000 lbs of fresh salmon filet supplied to our local food pantries. In addition, prior to cleaning, fish are sampled for the DNR for disease and other statistical databases.
- Powder-Puff Tournament – This is a single day event for female participants only (members, family and friends), where they can join the men, enjoy the fishing, and make fishing memories of their own. Men may set rods and drive the boat, but the ladies reel in the fish and win the trophies. The event requires 2 – 3 volunteers and approximately 10 man-hours for planning, advertising, weigh-in and awards ceremony.
- Club Potluck/Picnic/Pig Roast – This event always take place on “Powder Puff” day and is free to all members and their immediate families and/or significant others. Roasted pig and boiled fresh corn are provided by the club, while each member is requested to bring a dish to pass. The public is welcome to attend for a nominal fee. This event again requires minimal planning but is probably our largest expense (other than the newsletter and membership meetings) from club membership. Approximately 3 – 5 volunteers are needed to plan the event, serve food and preform clean-up afterwards.
- Roosevelt Park Trout Pond – This annual event is centered around “Roosevelt Park Days”, which takes place the last Saturday in August each year. As in other trout ponds, the event requires a crew to set up, “man” the pond and actual fishing event, and then tear down and clean up equipment.
- Sportsmen for Youth Rendezvous – Held the first Saturday after Labor Day, this free event is like Pheasants Forever (see June events) in that it offers youngsters the opportunity to learn about hunting and fishing, and to develop a greater appreciation for the natural wonders found in West Michigan. Sportsmen for Youth (SFY) is now the largest and most successful outdoor youth program in Michigan, educating in excess of 1,500 youth every year, and MAA is proud to have been affiliated with them since the very beginning. Again, like Pheasants Forever, MAA provides trout and ponds free to local youth. All caught fish are cleaned, bagged and stored on ice until the young fishermen are ready to go home. Additional prizes are presented to youth catching specially marked/tagged fish.
- Fall River & Surf Steelhead Contest – Refer to Spring River & Surf Steelhead Contest.
- Board Nomination – Our board is chosen by club members in a general election held in January.
In additional to the normal schedule of events listed above, the club also participates in several other events which help us to raise cash for our cause:
- Sportsmen For Youth Banquet – This fund-raising event is held in early August each year to help provide funds for September’s Sportsmen for Youth Rendezvous. MAA sells tickets and provides additional volunteers to work the actual event, as needed.
- Texas Hold’em Charity Gambling – MAA co-hosts four of these fund-raising events each year to raise cash for our other interests. Although we do not participate in the actual gaming, we do lend our name to the event and handle cash and chips for the participants.
- Other Trout Ponds – MAA hosts multiple trout pond events in conjunction with local communities and/or outdoor organizations. Some trout ponds are open to the public at no cost to the participants. Members from the club work with the young people to teach them about fishing and encourage them to become active in the outdoor experience. Many of the kids who visit the ponds experience their first fish catch ever and our volunteers truly consider it an honor to share in the excitement of the parents and children.