Goodbye to Fall at Big Bass Lake


Big Bass Lake in November

It’s time to put away the rowboats and get ready for ice fishing. Fall at Big Bass Lake means wonderous scenery and hunting season. How many full time home owners call Big Bass Lake home for the entire year?

I haven’t posted for awhile but autumn was always the best time at the lake because of all the leaves turning colors. What are some of your memories of autumn at Big Bass Lake?

By the way, those are the twin islands on the north side of the lake.

Looking West at The Twin Islands


If you were just exiting the channel from Little Bass Lake to Big Bass Lake this is the view that would await you. In the distance are the twin islands otherwise known as Four Winds and Turtle Island. The former was once the home of Camp Martin Johnson and it still has the original buildings on it although somewhat modernized.

Both islands are now privately owned as Turtle Island was once owned by the Manistee National Forest. En route to those two islands one would also find Sunken Island which is usually surrounded in summer time by an armada of pontoon boats so that their children can frolic in the two to three-foot water in the middle of that section of the lake.

And to the left side of the lake was once the property of Camp Martin Johnson.  Now the Heritage Bay Association owns that land and has built many modern mansions where the former camp once proudly stood.  But, what a spectacular view of the twin islands!

Camping on Turtle Island by Big Buck


 

Turtle island is kind of shaped like a turtle. It sticks out on the north and south ends and is wider in the center. It also sticks up in the center quite high, like a snapper turtles shell. People enter the island from a rather steep opening on the west side of the island. As you climb up, the island has a clearing on top that kind of flattens out some what. This is where campers pitch their tents and have a small fire pit. In the past few years there have been some campers that have decided they would cut some trees down to use as firewood. I believe this is what prompted the Department of Natural Resources to place the sign telling people the island is truly part of the Manistee National Forest and littering and cutting of any trees or wood is prohibited.

On the south end of the island there is a really amazing display of lily pads and wild irise’s that grow at the shores edge. The fall colors mixed with the birch and pines are stunning!!

Natahki Drive on Big Bass Lake


My new blog friend, Joan, from “My Quality Day (Blogroll)” recently featured the northern two most islands (Turtle and Four Winds) on Big Bass Lake which she mistakenly thought were the two largest islands. She snapped the picture from Natahki Drive or Road on the land that used to be owned by Camp Martin Johnson. The area she outlined in yellow bears that out. In fact, Four Winds Island was owned by the camp.

From Joan’s satellite view you can observe the two islands in question just off the shoreline of what used to be Camp Martin Johnson.  However the two largest islands are south of there and can be photographed by either the Public Landing or by taking the bridge to the Big Island and gaining view of that island as well as Haunted Island to its west. 

I personally believe Haunted Island to be the most fantastic of all the islands on the lake.  Natahki is what Big Bass Lake used to be called in its early days.  There was even a girls camp under that name once on the lake. 

Here now are Joan’s two islands on the north side of the lake.

All of the islands on Big Bass Lake can be found in our Categories on the sidebar. And that even includes Sunken Island which is just east of the two islands pictured here. That underwater island is between the two islands here and the channel between Big and Little Bass Lake. Last December I did a multi-part series on Turtle Island featuring pictures around and on that island.

Its twin, Four Winds Island, can also be found in Categories and features many pictures of the remains of Camp Martin Johnson.  Also check out Grandma’s Hat Island, Haunted Island, The Big Island, and Sunken Island.  Of the latter one in a few days I will have a great shot of that submerged isle.  You also might want to check out the Category about The Big Bass Lake Channel for some excellent photographs. 

The Islands of Big Bass Lake Transitional Names


By way of a reference point, the island names on Big Bass Lake were given to me by my grandmother, Barbara Noreika, who homesteaded the land in the 1020’s. She provided me the island names in the 1970’s when I was taking camping trips with Boys Clubs of America to our property. By the way, you had better keep a scorecard handy.

1.  Sunken Island:  North central part of the lake near the channel between Big and Little Bass Lake.  I call it that because of the three-foot depth there in the middle of the lake making it ideal for swimming and it is usually surrounded by pontoon boats doing just that.

2.  Turtle Island which is also sometimes known as Pirates Island.  I kind of like that latter name and it is the twin of Four Winds Island.  It was once owned by the Manistee National Forest but is now privately owned.  It is located just past the narrows of Big Bass Lake to the north.

3.  Four Winds Island is now privately owned but was at one time the property of Camp Martin Johnson.  To my knowledge it has always been known as Four Winds and it also is just past the narrows to the north.

4.  Grandma’s Hat Island is also known as Tiny Tim and Loon Island.  It is the smallest island on the lake and is in the southeast portion of the lake.

5.  The Big Island was formerly known as Waite Island.  Clyde Waite put up the bridge in the 1950’s.  It is now known as Isle of the Wilds.  It is located in the south central part of the lake.

6.  Haunted Island is a term I gave Matson’s Island because of the old house in the middle of the island which made midnight visits to the island ideal with various boys clubs.  It is located in the southwest part of the lake.

Have any of these islands also known other names over the years?  Let us know by way of a comment.

Turtle Island Almost On Ice


Turtle Island lies slightly north of Four Winds Island and some today know it as Pirates Island. It has several trees on it and is today privately owned. As you can see the ice is beginning to form on Big Bass Lake as this has been a rather warm winter by most standards. In fact, only 16% of the United States has a snow cover.

Today some people use Turtle Island for tent camping and that’s about all. It is the second smallest island on BigBass Lake and one that we covered in early December displaying a multitude of pictures both on and around the island. It was once owned by the Manistee National Forest.

Around the Next Island at Big Bass Lake


One of my favorite past times at Big Bass Lake was to go “Island Hopping” and since there were five to choose from, it was a great deal of fun.  I would take our motor boat and first encircle Haunted Island before turning slightly northeast and travel the shoreline of the Big Island.  As I finished that course, I circled Grandma’s Hat which took all of 30 seconds to do since it was the smallest island on the lake.

Then I turned northward and traveled through the narrows of Big Bass Lake to get to the two islands on the north side of the lake.  Four Winds Island was once home to Camp Martin Johnson and still has all the buildings that were used at camp yet today.  Then I took a turn around Turtle Island which is the only island on the lake owned by the Manistee National Forest. 

Then it was back through the narrows again to Haunted Island on the southwest side and back to our dock.  Private homes are today found on the Big Island, formerly Waite Island, and on both Haunted Island and Four Winds Island.  I’ve always loved going around the next island at Big Bass Lake and would recommend that journey to anyone.

Turtle Island- Part Five “The Isle Interior”


Apparently, the center portion of Turtle Island has a camping area under the trees with a defined pathway that runs the length of the island. A warning sign is posted just off that trail by the Manistee National Forest stating that no trees are to be cut down for fire wood.

On the island’s western edge is another more open camping location just down a short hill where wild grasses are found.  Even though the island is the second smallest on Big Bass Lake, it does seem to have its own trail system albeit a short one. 

Under the canopy of trees would seem to make for an excellent campsite.  I wonder if Turtle Island has any mythology to it that would make for great ghost stories?  Maybe our readers can clue us in on that point?  And, why do some now call this island Pirates Island?  There must be a tale or two revolving around that name?  Let us know by way of a comment.

Turtle Island- Part Four


Well, we’ve reached the beach on Turtle Island and look at all the spoils of war before us. All those downed branches will make for some excellent fire wood given the fact that cutting down trees on the island is prohibited by the Manistee National Forest Service.  And, birch bark to boot which makes for an excellent fire starter!

And, now that we’ve made it to the beach what awaits us on Turtle Island?  Where will we be pitching our tent for our overnight visit to the island.  More importantly, what will we be fixing for dinner or will that depends what we catch in Big Bass Lake later today?

I wonder what this island will look like once the sun goes down?  And, what kind of view can we expect of Big Bass Lake once on the island?  Well, here goes!  It’s about time to get onto the real meat of this island but that will have to wait until next time.  Wait!  Did I hear something just up that hill?

Turtle Island- Part Three


In that first photograph, by Big Buck, did you notice that sliver of a white pier?  Well, who put it in to begin with?  Was this part of the service to the island by the Manistee National Forest?  And, for the first time at Big Bass Lake and Beyond you can also make out that same pier from the interior of the island.

Yes, Turtle Island is full of trees and bushes and wild grasses.  Yet people are not to cut down any trees on the island.  The Manistee National Forest has a posted sign to that regard on the island.  Even so, I would think that the western tip of the island would be best suited for tent camping as there is a type of openness at that point. 

I also wonder how often the National Forest Service comes to Turtle Island to maintain it?  Does anyone know that?  But now that Big Buck has whetted your appetite for the interior of this island, in our next part I shall further enlighten you what is on this island. 

Also, does anyone know how this island came to be made known as Pirate Island at a later date?  Buried treasure perhaps?

Turtle Island- Part Two


I believe that I have solved the “Gap Theory” or at least the one between Turtle and Four Winds Islands.   I wonder what the depth of water is between these two northern most islands on Big Bass Lake?  Have any efforts ever been made to purchase Turtle Island from the Manistee National Forest?  It appears big enough to maintain one house. 

What is the actual distance between these two islands?  And, did Camp Martin Johnson ever utilize Turtle Island when they owned Four Winds?  How about for a primitive camping site?

Is there a good swimming area off of Turtle Island?  Again, my thanks to Big Buck for supplying the pictures and now how about someone else supplying some of the answers found on this post?  The comment box awaits you!

Turtle Island- Part One


On the second photograph, provided by Big Buck, it appears as if a ladder were going up the side of the trees. Can anyone else see that?  In this five-part series, all the pictures are coming via the camera genius of Big Buck who is a regular reader at BBL and Beyond.

In the past, I have shown some actual island footage of Haunted and Four Winds Island, but now, for the first time, you will be able to go ashore at Turtle Island later in the series and see what the internal parts of this island looks like.  In the 1050’s through the 1970’s, this island was known as Turtle Island but in recent years I believe the tag, Pirates Island now applies. 

This is the only island of the five on Big Bass Lake that is owned by the Manistee National Forest.  It is the twin island to Four Winds which was once owned by Camp Martin Johnson.  Overnight campers still use Turtle Island but are not supposed to cut down any timber.  They are to bring their own firewood with them.

Have any of our readers camped out on Turtle Island?  If so leave us a comment as to your experiences on te island.

Aerial Big Bass Lake and Noreika Property


This is an excellent aerial photograph of Big and Little Bass Lakes as well as the one time Noreika property (to the left and three-fourths to the top of the page).  The southern islands, left to right, are the Haunted Island, The Big Island (complete with a bridge leading to it), and tiny Grandma’s Hat.  Just to its left is Bluegill Lake.  In the lower left of this picture is the Softball Field and a new church in the area.

The two northern islands are Fou Winds Island and Turtle Island.  To their left is a small greenish area in the lake which  refer to as Sunken Island as the water is only three feet deep there and in the middle of the lake.  Just to its east and slightly north is the channel leading to Little Bass Lake which you can locate in the upper left side of this photograph. 

My grandparents, Joseph and Barbara Noreika, purchased their land in 1912 and part of the original deed included one-half of the Haunted Island.  Of their 256 acres some was farm land extending from what is today the public landing site all the way to Noreika Road and along side Big Bass Lake Road.  To its north and all the way back to Big Bass Lake was our forest land which included many swamp marshes. 

This land was a natural setting for many boys club camping trips which I took with three separate clubs in the 1970’s and 80’s. 

Dark and Mysterious Turtle Island


Most people in the area know that this island is the near twin of Four Winds Island which was once owned by Camp Martin Johnson and that island does have buildings on it.  But, Turtle Island, owned by the Manistee National Forest, is shrouded in more mystery.  No structures are found there yet some people do camp on this island.  Take notice of the fallen tree toward the side of this island.  It extends its way into Big Bass Lake quite a few feet.

Here you can observe that fallen tree extending out into Big Bass Lake somewhat easier.  I would also take it that it is in this area where most campers erect their tents.  Or might it be on the open side of the island? 

I would like to know something about the interior of Turtle Island.  Is is marshy?  Could a building be erected on it?  How far is it from Four Winds Island?  And, have any of our readers camped out on this island?  Now, I’ve already dubbed Matson’s Island as Turtle Island so I don’t want to go so far as to rename this isle Mysterious Island but it is somewhat just that. 

That is until some of my questions get answered.  Besides Turtle, or Pirates Island as some call it, is such a tame name for this place.  Mysterious Island makes one want to go out there and explore it.  So, what’s stopping you from doing just that?

The Twin Islands in Close Proximity


Sometimes when you come upon these two islands from various directions, it is hard to tell which is which. The main difference is that Four Winds Island has buildings on it whereas Turtle Island does not. For a time, Four Winds Island was owned by Camp Martin Johnson whereas Turtle Island is owned by the Manistee National Forest. It would be fun to check out the structures on Four Winds Island and hear them “talk” of the days of Camp Martin Johnson. Some have graffiti still on them with a voice out of the past to those that choose to hear.

Turtle Island, on the other hand, would be intriguing to camp upon and explore what little is there. Could this island support even one structure? And what is the distance that separates these two islands?   How far are they in proximity to the channel between Big and Little Bass Lakes?  How have the structures on Four Winds Island been altered to fit the new owners plans?  Is there any option to winterize any of those buildings? 

Any answers out there in Big Bass Lake and Beyond  land?

Timber at Turtle Island !


I would like to thank Don Clodfelter for capturing this photograph of a birch tree that has fallen into Big Bass Lake from Turtle Island which is the twin island of Four Winds Island on the north side of the lake.  In other pictures of this island here at Big Bass Lake and Beyond this particular island has a tree that appears ready to fall at any time and this must have been that tree.

And this particular island is owned by the Manistee National Forest which brings that natonal forest to the very shores of Big Bass Lake itself.  I wonder how long it will take the forest service to remove this potential obstacle from the lake?  Our beachfront property also had a lot of birch trees and they are most beautiful indeed. 

Don has taken other photographs that will appear over the coming months.  Beginning in September, this site will be posting a daily article and all these will be brand new posts from either me, Darren, Mike, or Darlene. 

Cruising Past The Northern Islands


Here is a lone speedboat about to pass the two northern islands on Big Bass Lake, those being Turtle and Four Winds Island.  The former is still owned by the Manistee National Forest and brings a presence of that large mass of forest land to Big Bass Lake.  The latter is now privately owned but was once a part of Camp Martin Johnson, that being Four Winds Islan.

Just to the east of these two islands is the passage between Big and Little Bass Lakes and in early August I will have a rerun of those classic posts bringing you many angles of that passage.  Also just to the east of these islands is the Sunken Island where the water is only a few feet deep and is a populr venue for pontoon boats to anchor at.  Lots of people like to swim in that area of the lake.

I would welcome any other pictures of Turtle Island which you can email to me at davidnorris1313@juno.com

The Manistee National Forest on Big Bass Lake


Were you surprised to learn that the Manistee National Forest is actually found ON Big Bass Lake? Now, you know that the forest surrounds the lake but ON the lake? How is that possible?

Well, the second smallest island on the lake I know as Turtle Island which some today call Pirate Island and it is found on the North side of Big Bass Lake. It is all forested and is actually owned by the Manistee National Forest. I understand that there are no camping signs on the island even though that many do choose to camp on that island. How habitable is this island? This marvelous photo came our way by Mike Elsner but perhaps there are those in the area that can tell us a little more about this island.

Could a house be placed on the island? The island next to it has about four structures on it so could Turtle Island be capable of housing one structure? How many locals have taken the time to camp on that island overnight? Let us know by way of a comment.

Turtle Island


We haven’t mentioned a whole lot about Turtle Island, which is a twin island to Four Winds Island, because I don’t know a whole lot about this island. To my knowledge there is no structure on the island and I’m not even sure if Camp Martin Johnson made any use out of that island or not. They were active on Four Winds Island.

Turtle Island has had its share of tents erected on it from what I’ve been told until that was stopped. I think the Manistee National Forest now owns that island. I would presume there are turtles about since the island is named after them. Anyone out there in Big Bass Lake land know much more about this island?

If so, please leave us a comment about it.