Great Lakes Sport Fishery

Registered Site L1167

Great Lakes Sport Fishery

Great Lakes sport trolling was pioneered off Northport in the early 1920s. Traverse City native George Raff was the first to discover that lake trout could be caught by trolling in Grand Traverse Bay's protected waters. Prior to this, trout fishing was mainly a commercial enterprise , in which large quantities of the species were caught by net. Traverse City restaurant owners eagerly bought Raff's catches. Starting with one small boat, about sixteen feet long, Raff later began the area's first sports charter service. He charged each angler one dollar and hour, and guaranteed success. Methods he and his wife, Nell, developed for catching trout and other gamefish species have spread throughout the Great Lakes.
photo of Great Lakes Sport Fishery

Side 2

Sport trolling for lake trout almost vanished in the 1940s due to overfishing by commercial netters and sea lamprey attacks on the trout. Chemicals finally controlled the lampreys, while state laws outlawed gill nets. In the 1960s, the Michigan Fishery Commission planted Coho and Chinook salmon for a new sports fishery. Using the methods developed near Northport in the 1920s, plus other techniques -- such as using piano wire, wooden and metal reels, and lures made from tin cans and bicycle spokes -- trollers again began catching salmon, brown and lake trout and steelheads throughout most of the Great Lakes. In 1981 sports fishing brought Michigan over three billion dollars in tourist revenues and attracted 700,000 licensed anglers to the Great Lakes.

Erected 1984

Location: Village Marina
Northport, Leelanau County

Business & Industry

Latitude: 45.1297120, Longitude: -85.6131505

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