very time one of those “Pure Michigan” spots would come over the radio waves and into my ears, it was as if Tim Allen was speaking directly to me.
I simply couldn’t take it anymore and planned that get-away to parts “Up North.”
Kneff Lake rustic campground in Crawford County would be the destination and outpost for a few days of exploration, discovery, and fishing.
Kneff Lake is a mere 20 acres, but it is stocked with trout.
Some 25 or more years ago, I fished the lake with some friends and once we figured out the technique for catching those cold-water trout, we hauled them in.
It was those memories that I sought to relive.
The campground offers dozens of spacious, private sites sprinkled high atop the small lake.
However, even with my lightweight, 10-foot jon boat, I gave up on the idea of lifting and carrying the boat and gear up and down the steep and lengthy incline.
It was primarily the “up” part of the equation that I did not want to attempt by myself.
Either that mountain-like trek was more than I recall or Father Time’s whispering in my ear, “Forget it” changed my plans; it was time to explore other possibilities.
My need for an easier way to launch the boat prompted me to ask a local convenience store worker for a lake more suitable for my plan.
Somehow, the convoluted directions brought me to tiny Glory Lake in Hartwick Pines State Park. The launch site was perfect with not one other person on the water.
I pulled in a few pan fish including one sizeable rock bass. It was as if I had my own private lake.
Back at camp I searched the county map for other nearby lake access and found K.P. Lake only about 10 miles north.
It appeared to be a straight-forward drive and after a camp breakfast, it was time to explore.
Stephan Bridge Road was the shortest distance but that seasonal road of sand along the eastern boundary of Camp Grayling made it seem much longer than it was.
At first, when I noticed a large tract of cleared land behind a short fence, I wondered who would have removed all the timber.
It became patently obvious when I read a prominent sign posted on the endless fence: Danger! Unexploded Ordnance. Do Not Enter.”
At no more than 20 mph it took some time but I located the well-hidden K.P. Lake – another perfect launch site; a Michigan Recreation Passport was all that was required and I had one.
Interestingly, a sign was posted with the following: “Loon Alert! Loons nesting nearby.”
This is one of the few lakes in Michigan where the common loon is known to nest.
Loons are a threatened species in Michigan. There are fewer than 300 nesting pairs in our state. Loons usually raise only one chick per year.
As I rowed into the stiff north wind, I could see the unmistakable outline of one of the magnificent water birds in the distance.
I skirted the rare bird from a safe distance for a better look and did my best to capture the moment on video (now posted on my YouTube channel).
Obligingly, the lone loon belted out its spooky call and dove below lake level for a meal of fresh fish. The sight and sound made my day!
As part of my trip home, one more stop was on the agenda: The Au Sable River in Oscoda County. Just east of the Parmalee Bridge was a public access point for canoes, which doubled as a stream-side place to fish from the banks.
Having caught plenty of trout there years ago, it was worth a look. I rigged a red wiggler worm onto a hook and caught a keeper brook trout on the second cast.
After catching another one, I continued on my path home well satisfied with the sights and sounds of the North.
It was a trip to test some camping gear and a chance to return to my past. The sound of coyotes howling in the night along with a solitary whippoorwill added some icing on the cake.
It was good to be back “Up North.”