“Does it usually rock back and forth like that?” asked Rosy.

“Ah, don’t worry too much ‘bout it,” said Otto. “Gets that way when the wind picks up. But that’s alright. Fish like the wind.”

Rosy laughed. His tension eased. “What do you mean they like the wind?”

“Shit, I don’t know. I catch a lot more of ‘em, though.”

The wind blew them over towards the point, where a couple of fallen pines jutted out into the lake.

“Try right over there,” Otto instructed, motioning beside one of the waterlogged trunks.

Rosy cast his line, but he couldn’t get the timing right. His bait plunked into the water a few feet from the boat. He gathered the line and tossed it a second time, landing closer.

A mosquito buzzed in his ear. Another one feasted on his leg.

Rosy Richardson settled into his seat and waited.

lake george + perry ray

127005281301The Ray family lived on the unfortunate side of Lake George Trail, an unkempt road that followed a ridge that separated Lake George from Spider Lake.

Lake George itself was one-tenth the size of Spider Lake, and half of that was swamp, anyway. Cattails and other aquatic plants rose from the shallow north end of the lake. There was a turtle the size of a table, and an ancient old catfish, long as the Ray’s own dock, that slithered lazily through the shallow water, occasionally sneaking to the surface to to tragically alter the life of an insect whose only crime was taking a quick dip in the water to snag a drink. These creatures ran the joint, and made sure you knew it too—moving around you completely unfazed as you sat in your rowboat with the line from your fishing pole resting on the surface.

It wasn’t the type of lake, though, where you could spread your wings and zip over the surface with one of those new Caille motors from downstate. Perry Ray would hear them from his family home, a small but tidy house which sat at the south end of the lake.


The buzz was similar to a stalking fly, scoping you out from a distance. When Perry Ray heard this, he’d dart across Lake George Trail to his favorite vantage point: a felled tree that juts out into the part of Spider Lake where all its various arms and legs join together.

The body of the lake.

the great spider lake boat races

The first outboard motor for built for use in boats was a small, eleven pound unit designed by Gustave Trouvé in 1870. Bolstered by the tailwinds of the industrial era, the Caille Motor Company of Detroit began to mass produce these motors in 1914, where they slowly made their way Up North by the 1920′s.

The roaring twenties. That indefatigable decade which saw such technological, cultural, and economic change. Even in the largely rural swath of northern Michigan. People had more free time and money to devote to pleasure.

And thus was born the Great Spider Lake Boat Races of the 1920′s…