Thursday, October 4, 2018


The Carp River, also known as the Leland River, is less than a mile long and it connects Lake Leelanau with Lake Michigan.

Historic Fishtown shanties line both sides of the river with charter fishing boats docked at water’s edge.  On this cold, windy fall day the riverside was thick with visitors witnessing a yearly spectacle.

Salmon are on the move from The Lake to the river and Lake Leelanau to spawn.  On their way up-river, the fish face a formidable obstacle:  The Leland Dam.

Most salmon stay resting on the sandy bottom of the river thwarted by the turbulent waters discharged at the base of the dam.

Both sides of the river, as well as the balconies of The Cove Restaurant and the Falling Waters Lodge, were packed with spectators watching the salmon emerge from the churning waters and attempt to beat the dam.

Cheers would arise from the crowd when these 25-pound fish would leap into the air.  It was challenging to those of us trying to take pictures because we didn’t know when or where the flying fish might originate.

The acrobatics were amazing, as these fish flew through the air twisting and turning as they attempted to breach the dam's discharge.

It was great fun watching this spectacle on the Carp, but it was a bit sad too.  The few who made it onto the dam were soon pushed back into the river by the force of the flowing water.  It was an exercise in futility.