Guide Jim Barta will never forget the morning he guided an executive from GM on the Detroit River. He anchored his boat on his favorite spot, a reef that fronts the Renaissance Center, Detroit’s paean to modernism. Ten minutes later the client landed a 10-pound walleye, then phoned up to his office in one of the buildings and proudly displayed his catch for his coworkers. “It was like the guy had signed a big contract or something,” says Barta, a retired fireman who has fished the river for 45 years.
In the 1960s, the Detroit River could be bright blue one day, green the next, and orange the day after, depending upon which effluent the steel mills and chemical plants upstream were discharging. Rescued by the Clean Water Act, the river now boasts a run of nearly 10 million walleyes each spring. And fishing isn’t the only entertainment. Barta enjoys watching the joggers and inline skaters on the lively waterfront and catching the smell of hot dogs in the air. And he really likes the front-row seat he has to outdoor concerts at the Civic Center-imagine jigging for tasty walleyes while listening to Aretha Franklin belt out “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Contact Capt. Jim Barta, 313-388-5847; truefishing.com.