Fishing the Sauble Lakes

The best thing about fishing Sauble Lake is that there are actually five of them and each are connected by a channel from one to the next.  I usually fish the main lake but now and again like fishing lakes 3 and 5.  My favorite fish to go for are perch as I enjoy the taste of that little fish. 

I have a friend with  a cottage on the lake which beats having a public landing as I just launch my boat off of his property.  He has a canoe that he lets me use but never for fishing as  I like to use that for pure exercise. 

At this time of year, though, my fishing activities take me more so to rivers over that of lakes.  Now I might be persuaded to return to Sauble One in the dead of winter when the ice thickens to the right weight.  But fall beckons me to the Per Marquette River for my fishing needs.  There I can canoe to my fishing destination and then fish off shore to my heart’s content.  What a life!

Sauble Lake- All Five of Them!

Sauble Lakes

If you count Little Bass Lake, the Big Bass Lake unit has two. Sauble Lake beats them hands down with four additional interconnecting lakes coming to a total of five lakes in all. Here we have them all for you.

The Benish family of Manistee, Michigan, used to have a cottage on the biggest Sauble Lake as I went swimming there a couple of times. And, while I have taken the channel from Big to Little Bass Lake, I would have dearly loved to take the channels to each of these lakes as well. Some might have been a little lengthy from how the map shows them in relation to one another.

I wonder if speedboats are allowed on each lake and also wonder how many cottages are found on each? Any help from our peanut gallery?

Some Reflections on Big Bass Lake

One of our readers (Kevin) left us a comment in regard to our recent poll on what lake was one’s favorite and he suggested that Sauble Lake was because it had no public landing and thus had a minimum of speedboats on the lake.  I remember those times on Big Bass Lake in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  After Frank Benish died, his family sold their land to the State of Michigan who in turn put the public landing on the southwest corner of Big Bass Lake.

At the time, our dock was the first one to the north of that landing  and the landing itself was right next to our land.  It was not only the noise that affected our family now but also the junk from the landing that was caught in a net cage under our dock that was frustrating.  Add to that the constant flow of boats into Big Bass Lake from Memorial to Labor Day which turned the once peaceful waters of Big Bass Lake into a flurry of churning waves and noise. 

In the 1970’s, I took many a trip to our wooded beachfront with several Boys Clubs of America groups and we used to drink the water from Big Bass Lake (along wth helazone tablets for purification) but that could no longer happen as the water is permeated with gasoline and oil.  Once our public landing went in the purity of Big Bass Lake was lost. 

I remember how the lake changed after Labor Day as I could take out our rowboat without being concerned about the wake from large boats knocking me ascunder.  It was similar to what Kevin had alluded to in regard to Sauble Lake.  In that light I hope that no public landing is ever installed at the Sauble Lakes.  That scenerio is forever lost at Big Bass Lake as the boats coming in seem to be getting bigger and bigger with even more horsepower than ever before.  Oh, for the return to much simplier tmes at the lake!

Camp Martin Johnson History Part Two by Martin Johnson

I could see the north part of the lake and some of the land I had seen when I first struck the lake, which proved to be islands. I sat down on a fallen tree to meditate and realized that this was the place I had been dreaming about all the time. So I made up my mind I would buy this land and make a home of it. It was also desperately desolate with all the dead timber, and stumps, and brush standing and laying around. It would not be long until the old dead stuff would be gone and the second growth would come and make the place beautiful again.

We camped at Loon Lake the rest of the summer and fall. There were lots of small game and wood ducks that came to the lake when the acorns began to fall, so we had lots of game and could get all the fish we wanted. When the weather began to get cold we went home for the winter, but the next year in May returned and camped at upper Saubel Lake among the green pine. I there met George Murkel and made a bargain with him for the land I had picked out. I put a down payment on it and got a deed years later.

Bromen begain to grow stronger and we hunted and fished together. The woods were filled with huckelberries and blackberries and we picked lots of them. I made a cart with wood wheels with flanges so I could pull it along Peters’ narrow guage track, and on that cart I piled the berries to ship at the P.M. RR Junction. In the fall when the cranberries were ripe we picked and shipped them the same way. At that time there were not many people here except the lumbermen and two fellows on Saubel Lake, and two other men, one a darkey , the other an old soldier who lived in a shack which had once been in a lumber camp. The old soldier was a friendly sociable man. When anyone came to his shack he would say “Come in nieghbor; help yourself to the nearest seat; fill your pipe and let’s have a good sociable smoke and a good sociable chat”. Then he would begin to talk about his adventures in hunting deer and bear and trapping otter and beaver, and about wishing people would come and settle here so that they would visit him.

In the autumn I made several oil sketches around Bass Lake, but when it began to be cold Bromen and I went home to Sparta and I took up my work of portrait and landscape painting for several years. The call to go back north again began to be stronger all the time. I managed to get up for a week or two each year and in the fall of 1893 I put up a little log cabin and stayed all winter and did some chopping and clearing way of brush around the cabin where I intended to build my house. For several more years I did portraits, but the call to go north to my place grew stronger all the while. In January, 1901, I said goodbye to civilization and came up to my little cabin and began to cut timber for my house. The snow was deep and the weather was bad, and it took me until March before I had enough material for the house. Before the ice went out I hired a man with a team to haul logs and poles to the place where I wanted to build. Afterwards I hired the same man to help me hew the logs. It took me all summer to build, as I worked mostly alone and as everything had to be made with the ax.

For the joists, rafters, and studdings I used small logs and hewed them on two sides, and for the rafters I used pine and cedar poles. The rafters were hewed on the top only. I had to have some sawed lumber but it was cheap in those days. Dressed lumber for window frames and casings, and maple flooring cost $12 a thousand delivered at Peacock; now it is nearly ten times that amount. By the time I had the house up and the roof on my brother John came and made most of the window frames for me, and would have stayed longer but for a message from home saying that his boy was sick. After that I did the rest myself. The worst was the plastering especially on the ceiling. When I started to plaster it came down again and covered me all over. I was very discouraged and would quit but in a few minutes was at it again until I got the hang of it. After that the work went fairly well.

Next part 3.

Camp Martin Johnson History Part One by Martin Johnson

I was dreaming, dreaming of a place up north in the woods where there was a beautiful lake. I never had any desire to go South, East, or West — only North.

After two or three days I went back to Marquette. One of the hunters went with me or I would not have been able to find my way through the woods and over the mountains. I did a few oil sketches, mostly on “Dead River” and then went back to my old home in Sparta township and made portraits for three years. A boy friend got consumption and his doctor said that the only hope for him was to go camping among the pines. He induced me to take him up north. So in 1889 I brought him into Lake County and we camped near where my home came to be. We should have left the train at Peters Crossing but through some mistake of the man who directed us, we were carried on to Manistee, crossing 25 miles north. Next morning we took the train back to the water tank on the little Manistee River, but had bad luck at the river where we camped as it rained all the time. As soon as the weather cleared I struck out across the country to find Bass Lake or the Saubel Lakes. I found the Saubel Lakes in the afternoon and next day brought the young man, Herbert Bromen, and we camped a few days until I got our supplies packed in. At that time lumbering operations were at their height, and Peter’s headquarters were at Saubel Lakes, with a crew of 100 men. In a few days, we moved to Loon Lake, where we camped the rest of the summer. At that time Loon Lake was surrounded with virgin pine which was in its beauty, wonderfuly majestic, the tall dark forest for miles around darkly solemn. At that time Lake County was one of the richest counties in Michigan but it is poverty stricken now, all through selfishness. If it had not been for selfishness, this county could have been as rich today as it was 45 years or 50 years ago. If the lumber men had cut only what was ripe and protected the rest from fire so it could have kept on growing, that would have kept them lumbering as the timber grew up. People want to get rich quick, make their pile and have what they call a good time. It is selfishness that spoils our lives and blinds us to the beautiful things of life. The things which alone can make up a happy and contented life for us. If it had not been for the fires or the cut-over land there would have been lots of timber yet. The state should have started reforesting years ago. The first night we camped at Loon Lake we had one of the worst thunder storms and cloud bursts I have ever seen, with continous lightning from all directions. It was impossible to sleep and towards morning Bromen asked me what I thought of this. I said I thought it was rather damp. The water was rushing all around us but it was lucky that we had our tent on a little knoll or we would have floated away. Many trees went down during the night and in the morning every other telephone pole and sometimes two or three in succession were shattered along Peter’s telephone line. It was the wildest night I have ever seen. The water had risen four inches in the lake during the night.

After we were well settled at Loon Lake I started to find Big Bass Lake. In this oak and pine forest it was pretty thick and dark; one could not see far ahead but I finally found it. I came to where the school house now stands and started to walk around the lake, but I could not see more than a small part of it at any time. I did not know that the lake was as big as it proved to be. I started walking north but when I had gone a little way I came to where the timber had been out and there the walking became extremely difficult. Fire had gone over and fire wood had grown up as high as my head. It was then shedding its down and filled my eyes, nose, and mouth with its soft, flaky, white wool. It also concealed the logs and brush underneath and made walking more difficult. At that time they did not cut the hemlock, or oak, or anything but pine and the other timber lost its support and was hurled in all directions. Here and there a big jumble of trees interlocked branches with weed and blackberrie briar all interwoven so it took from one and a half to two hours to go from where the school house now stands to where my house is now located.
I will continue this in part 2.

Sauble Lake Curve

Once off Michigan 37 at the Club 37 Restaurant turnoff, I used to take a road enroute to Big Bass Lake Road. After a long road trip, my senses finally felt “at home” as I rounded the curve facing Sauble Lake and could take in this magnficient view. Nearby was the Sauble Lake Emporium and even before that used to be the Fun Spot.

Sauble Lake felt like home probably because I used to swim there as a young boy as the Richard Benish family had a cottage there. They would invite us over to swim in Sauble Lake. Actually there are five of these lakes with channels between each of them. Whereas Big Bass Lake has five islands and one channel this lake has its five channels between the various Sauble Lakes.

The next lake up the road was Loon Lake which would connect with Big Bass Lake Road which I would follow along the entire run of Loon Lake. Then it was up a short hill and the Big Bass Lake Store was right in front of me with Big Bass Lake just behind it. Then it was only a mile west to our property. But, it was always Sauble Lake that made me feel finally at home after that long trip.

Autumn at Sauble Lake

I wanted to give you a full color picture of how Autumn colors this lake. I love this lake because there is no public landing. The lake is more restrictive than other lakes in the area.

And, like Big Bass Lake to the north, this lake also has channels but four of them!  Each leads to one of the Sauble chain of lakes.  Plus I find this lake less travel heavy than other lakes in the area allowing for more peaceful rides without all those heavy wakes.

Between mid October and mid November one can feast their eyes on scenery such as this all day long to their hearts content.  I enjoy using either a rowboat or canoe to take in this fantastic scenery as I lazily just drift about each lake. 

Perhaps you have a favorite of the Sauble Lake’s and if you do leave me a comment as to which one and why. 

The Fun Spot in the 1950s

Ed Hawks found this old photograph of the Fun Spot near the big Sauble Lake. Remember the Warped bowling alleys there? And the pinball machines? How many memories do you have of the Fun Spot? For entertainment they gave the Loon Lake roller rink some competition. In the Backwoods of those days it was unusual to have two entertainment centers within 5 miles of each other. Leave us a comment as to your time at the Fun Spot.

The Fun Spot at Sauble Lake



Of course, our photo above is not the actual “Fun Spot” near Sauble Lake, but I can’t seem to find any of the original. You remember the “Fun Spot” for it featured some warped bowling lanes, some pinball games, and the food. Remember the food.

I bowled there a few times and had a great deal of fun. To find a bowling alley in the north woods was a novel idea. Almost like finding a roller skating rink at Loon Lake. I heard that the Fun Spot burned down some time ago.

When you come to think of it, both the Fun Spot and the Loon Lake Pavilion offered that area something most rural areas don’t have. It makes me wonder why Big Bass Lake didn’t have something like that somewhere around its shores. Oh, yes, our fun spot was the lake itself with five islands to dart around in speed boats.

Any other memories of the “Fun Spot” out there? Provide a comment and let us know.

The Benish Cottage on Sauble Lake

Julie Benish and her parents owned a cottage on Sauble Lake. The bottom was rather Rocky but the rocks eere fairly smooth. The water felt colder than Big Bass Lake but it was probably because we were used to our lake. They had us over for a picnic in my sisters and I enjoyed it as did my mother. The Benish’s were very gracious to us. We hosted them the following month at Big Bass Lake. I had a big crush on Julie in those days. Julie’s mother was Miss Michigan and all three Benish girls were quite beautiful.

How About One of These at Big Bass Lake?

A submarine vessel at Big Bass Lake. You could check out the best place to fish this way. Or to actually see what’s at the bottom of the lake.

But there’s also other possibilities. You can sneak up on someone at night and surface and watch them set a rowing record to shore. You can also take this baby just over the surface of the lake.

Just imagine how fun this would be? You could Buzz right past the speed boats leaving them standing in awe. And suppose you’re only up here for the weekend? How in the world are you going to get home? Well?

You sure won’t have to get an airline ticket. This vessel has all you need. You can also use it at Loon Lake and Sauble Lake as well. Just don’t ask me about the price tag. And you don’t have to even use the public landing. This will even set the yellow plane on edge.

Sauble Lake’s Fun Spot

Have you ever wanted to just kick yourself for not remembering to take a few photographs of your favorite memories when younger?  I used to frequent this “Fun Spot” near Sauble Lake yet never once thought of taking a few pictures here.  I most remember the warped bowling lanes so that you really had to concentrate to get your bowling ball to do what you wanted it to do.

I also liked the pinball machines.  Do you remember those old heaters and the noise they put out?  I also wonder why the Fun Spot was never replaced when it burned down?  At least I heard that is what happened to it.  Does anyone reading this website have old pictures of the Fun Spot.  If so send it to me at

Also send me your thoughts about the Fun Spot and maybe I’ll dedicate a page to it at the top of Big Bass Lake and Beyond.  Perhaps the Fun Spot can be “fun” again through all of our memories about it?

The Five Sauble Lakes Plus River

1In the lower right of this picture you can see the headwaters of the Sauble River. I often wondered where the river connected with the lake. Yet Sauble Lake is actually 5 in number with a Channel leading to each lake. The overview shows each particular Lake. Instead of individual names for each Lake they are numbered 1 through 5. At Big Bass Lake there is a channel reading to Little Bass Lake. I suppose those two lakes could have been number too. The main Sauble Lake is where the river begins. It ends near the Ludington State Park where it empties into Lake Michigan.