Brown Trout In The Snow
Trials of Weekend Fishing
One of my goals when I ended my career teaching high school and moved on to whatever you wish to call this phase of my life was to never fish on weekends again. After over thirty years of having to limit my fishing mostly to Sunday mornings along with the odd Spring Break trip or summer outings to Ontario, I wanted to fish when most other guys can't. I figured five days a week was plenty. For the most part, that has worked out. I still get out on a weekend now and then when I want to fish with a buddy that, unfortunately, still has to work for a living but these tend to be more social outings then fishing trips. I got a little reminder this last week on the wisdom of, when possible, staying off the water on weekends. Paul and I saw a "weather window'" Sunday afternoon after a pretty crappy week full of high winds, snow and cold temperatures. As we pulled up to the marina, we had to work our way past two rigs sitting in the middle of the parking lot, being prepared for launching by a flurry of snowsuited anglers. We had the boat in the water and were leaving the harbor entrance before they got their boats to the ramp. However this proved to be a harbinger of things to come. We had come to expect having the lake pretty much to ourselves on these early season outings. Well, not today, not this Sunday. As we gazed out on the chilly waters of Baileys Harbor, there were no fewer the ten boats in sight. That may not sound like a lot when compared to the fleet one sees out on the lake fishing salmon in the summer, but when targeting brown trout in the clear water shallows it is a problem. Even a boat or two passing over spooky trout in less than ten feet of water will scatter the fish and send them scurrying to deeper, safer water. So, since many of the boats were in the shallow areas, this required a change in tactics. With each boat hauling a spread of planer boards in swaths 200 feet wide or more, it was not so much a matter of fishing where the fish are, but fishing where the fishermen aren't. We spent most of the morning weaving in and out, varying our water depths from six to thirty feet. We covered a lot of water, but it was obviously not productive water, for after almost five hours of dragging lures all we had to show for it was one 25" pike. It was delicious.
Undeterred, Paul and I went out the very next day, Monday. We were greeted with a much different situation. Only one boat appeared on the far horizon. We could fish where we wanted with no conflicts. We started our run to Jacksonport under cool, sunny skies and light winds. We picked up a couple of nice "eaters" one about five pounds, the other three. Again we varied our depths and got the fish in about 10-12FOW on silver and black stick baits. Granted, two fish is not exactly killn'em, but not having to dodge other boats and being able to fish where we could find fish made the outing much more pleasant. No weekend warriors to deal with.
My apologies to any of you "weekend warriors" reading this. I mean no offense by my rant. It is a big lake and if we all can just be kind and mindful of one another out on the water, the weekends can provide plenty of quality fishing opportunities for us all. I'll still maintain my goal of not fishing on the weekends. It's all yours.
Fishing this weekend will not be an option for most anglers. The forecast for Saturday and Sunday is about as bad as it can get this time of year; rain, snow and howling northeast winds. (See chart below). The good news is that the Brown Trout Tournament is still a week away, April 19-22nd, and conditions can only be better. Speaking of the tournament, I see that they have put in at least one dock at the marina so that will make launching a lot easier. According to Harbormaster Mark, they are going to hold off dredging the harbor until after the tournament. This leaves quite a bit of soft sediment in the marina basin. I have launched out of the marina several times this year and have not had a problem getting through. I suggest trimming your motor up as much as you can to avoid stirring up the bottom. This will also avoid getting too much mud running through your water pump. At the harbor entrance, the deepest channel seems to be to the right as you leave near the breakwater rocks. Most boats should not have a problem, just go slow.
Check out the Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament Facebook page, for the latest updates and pictures of some nice brown trout.
Tight Lines, Bruce
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