Another Successful Brown Trout Tournament
But Not For Everyone

Harbor Angler Report, April 23rd (PS) Photo

Ok, That's it! I've had it. I'm never going to go fishing ever again. It's just a dumb waste of my life. I surely could use all of that time more productively. Harrumph! First of all, congratulations to all of those anglers who did catch and register fish in the recently completed 30th Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament, particularly to the top prize winners. The largest fish was a 22-pound brute. (See pic) To peruse a complete list of the top fish along with pictures, go to the Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament Facebook page. That said, Paul and I experienced our usual futility during the tournament. Despite the continued generous sponsorship of Noor Door Floor of Baileys Harbor, we could not come through and put a decent, or for that matter any, fish on the board.  It was not for lack of trying. In my very first fishing blog in this space (March 21, 2017) I clearly stated that I don’t consider myself a good fisherman, but I'm not totally inept either. At least not usually. For the record, I have put ten browns in my boat already this season and I have not had a chance to fish the Bayside yet. If the fish are biting, I can usually catch my share. I put a lot of time on the water and typically get rewarded for it. Not this weekend. I was proud of our effort though. We covered a lot of water; many, many miles of it. It was very cold water ranging from 34°F to 38°F.  We fished as shallow as five feet and as deep as fifty-five. We used stick baits of many colors and sizes, crank baits, spoons and rattling baits. About the only thing we did not use was dynamite or rotenone. Brynn Swanson, tournament director, made it clear that these methods of harvest were strictly verboten in the tournament and by the DNR for that matter. We were desperate.

So once again I have to swallow what little pride I have remaining and congratulate all of the successful anglers. I guess it is a measure of what an accomplishment it is to put fish in the boat, especially brown trout, that a lot of excellent anglers don't. When one stands at the registration station seeing all of the productive anglers coming in with fish you can get the sense that everyone is catching fish except you. Of course, we don't hear from all these anglers that did not catch fish. Nobody comes running into the bar yelling, "Hey, I fished all day and got skunked!" A lot of hardworking anglers don't catch fish. Many do. Sure, some people might just claim it's pure luck and I guess there is a component of luck in fishing, maybe more than a little. We do hear about the novice or first-time angler catching "the big one" or some nimrod catching a monster on their first cast, but most of the brown trout anglers I know catch fish because they are passionate about fishing and put a lot of time and effort into the endeavor. Why else would you launch your boat at a snow covered landing, before the sun has broken the horizon into water as close to solid as it can be? I tip my hat to all of them.

My time on the water this weekend produced no fish, not even a hit. There must be a more productive way to devote my time. Maybe I could be working on world peace or stopping climate warming. Maybe I could spend more time with my granddaughters or my wife. But no, all I did was spend some ten hours out on the pristine waters of Lake Michigan, on a bright sunny weekend cruising along some of the most beautiful shorelines in the world in the company of a good fishing buddy talking smart and catching no fish. What a waste of time! Ok, maybe it wasn’t a total waste of time. I guess not catching fish isn’t the worst outcome of a fishing trip. I got plenty of fresh air, was not impaled by any hooks and we didn't sink. So maybe I'll go fishing one more time. But if I don't catch fish this time, that's it. I'm done. I'll never go fishing again.


Tight Lines, Bruce

Questions or comments to

PS - I have an addendum to above sad tale, or perhaps erratum would be more accurate. Monday morning Paul calls me up and says "Hey Bruce, you want to go fishing for browns tonight?" Yes, that's right, the day after the brown trout tournament, the one in which we got totally shut out, Paul wants to get out on the water for what I am convinced is a Quixotic enterprise. Well, I thanked him for the offer but begged off. My main excuse was that I had a turkey tag to fill and only two days to do it but, to be honest, I was looking for a little bit of a break from staring at empty water for hours on end. Since it was nice and calm, Paul decided to go out himself. Paul is nothing if not tenacious. You know what's coming, don't you? Soon after setting up his lines a board went flying back and after what Paul describes as a monumental battle, he boats a 37 inch, 27.5 pound slobosaurus. The beast had engulfed two of his lures and destroyed one of them. It was an amazing feat to land this fish solo. Paul had just caught a fish that would not only won the Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament, but would have won it by 5-pounds! Talk about being a day late and fifteen hundred dollars short. Sad. This fully corroborates THE ONLY thing I know for sure about fishing; "If you don't go' you won't catch 'em". HA