Trophy Fishing

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Trophy Fishing and Lake Ann Camp

Is it possible to say you love something when you don’t prioritize it very often?  Take fly fishing, for instance.  Whenever I am able to go, it is an incredible adventure.  However, it is not a big enough priority in my life to do it very often.

That being said; when I do go, I am all in.  On one of my first trips with a guide, I learned that fly fishing was an art more than a sport.  I was told that “bass fishermen go catching while fly fishermen go fishing”.  The point was that fly fishing was about the ambiance of soaking in the smells of the great outdoors, the ripple of the water and the satisfaction of dropping your fly naturally on the seam of the river where it is most likely to get a strike. Even if no fish ever rose to the surface to take your presentation seriously, the art of fly fishing is as much a part of the success as the actual catch.

ken and candance

Fly Fishing was Missing Something

That is where my fly fishing is missing something.  I like to go catching just as much as I like the ambiance of the great outdoors.  My favorite way to experience fly fishing is to take a key contributor with me and then employ the best guide available.  And there is nothing like the thrill of not just catching, but catching the one that really deserves to be mounted on the wall.

A few years ago, a couple of great friends of the camp and I hooked up with River Quest guide, David DeVries, on the Muskegon River.  In Dave’s vernacular, we met at “o-dark hour,” mounted a custom-designed riverboat with a jet motor and headed to the best hole on the river long before most anglers were even out of bed.  We sat in the cool breeze for quite some time as we watched the sunrise, and we waited for the appropriate moment to begin fishing.

Knowing the River like the Back of His Hand

Dave, knowing the river like the back of his hand, and knowing exactly which fly would attract the most interest, paid great attention to detail and had us all geared up for an amazing day of “catching”.  Knowing my propensity to want to score the big fish, he pointed to a hole and instructed me how and where to present my fly.  Cast after cast I would do my best and only reach the edge of the hole.  Dave would chide my efforts and remind me that you have to be where they are to get the big ones.  And then it happened… I finally landed a direct hit, smack dab in the middle of the hole.  Wham! The water churned and my line began ripping off my reel… the fight was on!

Dave barked orders to the other fishermen on the boat and soon their lines were in, the anchor was lifted and we were chasing a prize fish all over the river.  About thirty minutes later the net dipped out of the churning water a 37.5 inch steelhead trout that weighed in at 17.5 pounds.  What a catch and what a day!!  It was an unforgettable trophy fish capable of getting me a master angler award from the state of Michigan.


The Thrill of Leading Lake Ann Camp

The amount of time I spend on great excursions like this is small, but the experience of leading Lake Ann Camp affords me the same thrill almost every day of the year. Not many people have the privilege I have had (for almost 30 years now!) of seeing the life change God does through the ministry of Lake Ann Camp. As much as I love going after the big fish, I love seeing God change lives even more.

Lake Ann Camp is a special place to see that life change take place. We’ve been blessed with amazing facilities, cutting-edge activities, and an awesomely dedicated staff that is so intentional about details. But all these are just the tools God uses to change lives. No building here has ever changed a life. No activity or person on staff has ever brought eternal life change to a single camper. It’s God working through us, through our beautiful location, to do His work. We’re just the guides, making our best tosses on the water, but we know that God does the work.

A Misconception

Some people have a misconception about Lake Ann Camp because of the outstanding programs we offer. I don’t know how many times people have made comments like, “the reason Lake Ann Camp is so expensive is because you have such nice buildings and so many highly experienced staff members and the newest activities around”.  It seems to them that we could deliver as much impact with cheap facilities and young inexperienced staff members.

The reality, however, could not be further from the truth.  First off, contributors like the ones I fish with pay for the facilities, not the campers.  Secondly, my prize fish would have still been in the river at the end of the day had I not been with a guide that knew exactly what it would take to get him. The guide gave me the know-how and tools to make the prize catch.

Lake Ann Camp has amazing tools and recent gifts will soon increase our arsenal of great activities and landscaping excellence. Why? So we can have the nicest camp in the nation?  NO!  So we can charge more? No! So we can boast about our resources? Absolutely not! It’s for one reason and one reason alone: so we can present the Gospel in the most effective way possible, while fully respecting the creator God who has commissioned us to share His message to a needy world.

Committed to Excellence

Being committed to excellence with our team is simply the best way to showcase the amazing God that we know, love and serve.  Why do atheist campers attend and leave with Christ in their hearts?  We believe it’s because of the total package we provide.  Our privilege is to set the stage for that camper to experience the best that God has to offer with few distractions. We train counselors for 170 hours before a single camper shows up on site. Our staff gets up at “o-dark hour”, our bathrooms are clean and attractive, our food is exceptional, and our facilities are beyond the expectations of our campers.  Is it worth it?  Yes! We prize life-change enough to want to put in the extra effort to make Christ famous in all that we do, giving each aspect of our ministry our very best.

In short, I guess you can say that the Lake Ann staff like to go fishing (for men). Even more, the Lake Ann staff like to go “catching” God’s prize fish.

Ken Riley, Executive Director of Lake Ann Camp

If you want to learn more about Lake Ann Camp, or if you have questions for our Executive Director, feel free to visit our website, or email Ken directly: [email protected] or

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