Surfers head to Lake Michigan for the height of surf season
It’s definitely feeling like fall lately, and while many of us sit at home wrapping ourselves under blankets, some of us in Michiana head outside to jump into the icy water of Lake Michigan.
It sounds crazy, but not for the surfers of Lake Michigan. Believe it or not, the beaches of Michiana are a perfect spot for lake surfing, and that was discovered more than 50 years ago.
Jack Nordgren grew up on the south side of Chicago, lived in Hawaii for twenty-seven years with his wife, and now calls Michiana home.
He first started coming here in the 60s. One summer, he rented a room by Silver Beach to ride the Lake Michigan waves.
Lake Michigan is the fifth largest lake in the world with a width of 118 miles and a length of 307 miles. French explorers believed it was an ocean, calling it the inland seas and the third coast. Unlike the sea, tides don’t make the waves here.
Ryan Gerard, the President of Third Coast Surf Shop, explains, “we need wind to make waves and wind is typically associated with some type of weather system, be it a low pressure system or high pressure, because we are on the southern end of Lake Michigan. The best wind for us is a north wind, blowing down the length of the lake.”
The best seasons for strong northerly wind are fall, winter and spring.
“We put a lot of work into find good waves, so all of the time that we spend forecasting when it’s going to be good, it pays off when it actually happens, and you’re out with your buddies, and you’re getting these really good waves,” adds Gerard.
The satisfaction of catching those waves is a feeling that sticks with surfers, and ropes in everyone who tries it, from the start of the surf era to now.
“It’s become way more popular, I would guess there are between 8 and 10 thousand people that surf on the Great Lakes,” estimates Jack.
“We have every type of surfer from attorneys and doctors to construction workers and teachers and surf shop owners,” says Gerard.
Even in the cold months, when Lake Michigan averages around thirty-seven degrees, nothing can stop these surfers from getting out on the water.
Surfers come from all over the Midwest to surf the waves that are right here in Michiana. You can find out for yourself what surfing is all about, by renting a board and taking lessons with Jack himself, or at Third Coast Surf Shops.