By Rob Rohde-Szudy - Fitchburg, Wisconsin - USA

This is a request for feedback. If you have come to the Midwest Messabout at Rend Lake, or are considering it for 2009, read on.


For close to 20 years Jim Michalak has been hosting the Midwest Messabout at Rend Lake in southern Illinois. He has kept coming back to the Gun Creek campsite, as it tends to be less heavily used.

But it has some limitations. Since 2000 or so, the event has grown quite dramatically, at least in part due to the promotional efforts of Max Wawrzyniak on various online forums.

The result is that the event has gotten split between two loops of the campground (Cardinal & Bluejay), making it rather difficult to stay truly in touch with the rest of the gang. One attendee described it as “A Tale of Two Messabouts”.

The other catalyst was wind. Lot of it! 20 mph winds wouldn’t be so bad, but Gun Creek is at the northeast end of the lake. Given that the prevailing wind is southwest, this wide, shallow lake dealt out a steep 2-foot chop for most of the weekend. Few boats were launched, and even fewer for very long.

While the problem is normally light wind, it seemed worth looking into alternatives. A few of us regulars have been mulling it over and Jim gave us the go-ahead to try this for a year and see how it goes.

The Other Side of the Lake

On Sunday after the event I followed Kilburn Adams and Bill Dulin (both with SkiffAmericas) over to the North Sandusky campground. Here we found what seems like the ideal setting for a messabout. Sandusky cove still had wind, but no fetch for waves to build up. The entire cove is a no-wake zone, and because of its “fingers”, one can always find a sheltered area.


The first loop (Pintail) has an ideal large site (10) near the point for “messabout central”.

click images to enlarge

Here’s a view from just past that site so you can see the point containing the Ringneck campsites.
There’s beaching on the other side of the Pintail point as well. You can’t see it, but the launch ramp is just past that point.
You can see how site 11 is pretty spacious as well.
Here’s the water’s edge from site 11.
Now from the water’s edge at site 11.
The RV is in site 11 here, site 10 in the background.
In this one you’re seeing sites 12-14 from the water’s edge.
Here’s a view looking back at the other sites from site 10. This is much more shaded than Gun Creek.

A Gun Creek we used up 18 sites on two loops with a bit of doubling up and a bit of overflow. At North Sandusky we could do the same on one loop—the one that is closest to the launch ramp, showers and playground. Of particular note is that shorter walk to the launch ramp. There is a camper’s convenience store just outside the campground, but you would have to drive for a few minutes to get to the customary greasy spoon near Gun Creek.

And all this on a sheltered cove. As if to drive the point home I saw this little one casually grazing on my way out. I looped around I got this shot just as it was getting startled by someone’s large truck.


Here’s the rub. North Sandusky is more popular than Gun Creek, and I guess for obvious reasons. This means that we will have to be really organized if we want to take over a loop for the messabout. This will be sort of like getting concert tickets. I am prepared to watch the reservation system and let everyone know the moment those dates are made available. This should be right around Oct 15, 2008. Then all those who are planning to go would need to spring into action and reserve sites before non-messabouters snap them up.

I will keep track of who has what site, who has extra sites to “sublet” or space to share, and who needs a site. I would especially like to hear from those who will be ready to pounce on multiple reservations early, so we can form a coordinated effort.

So you can see how this would take a little more effort up front than Gun Creek.


Don’t forget to contact me if you plan to reserve a site or sites! Thanks in advance.

Rob Rohde-Szudy
2981 Fish Hatchery Road
Fitchburg, Wisconsin  53713

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