Gridlock on The Landing
The Egg Harbor Invitational
As I mentioned last time, I went looking for some smallmouth action the last several days. Smallmouth bass have always been my first love when it comes to fish in Door County. However, the last several years, this has been quite the unrequited love. My success rate on recent forays has not been as fruitful as what I recall having when I used to come up from Appleton for my regular smallmouth fishing outings. Yea, I know, we all think the fishing used to be better "years ago", but memories and fishing stories are notoriously unreliable. I have records! For whatever reason, increased fishing pressure, too much focus on the many other fish species available in the county or just plain bad luck, the smallies have just not been jumping into my boat. At any rate, I thought the best way to reignite the fire, as with any love affair, would be to spend more time, effort and thought. So with all good intentions I trailered The Pamela Ann (I named my boat in honor of my wife) up to the landing at Ellison Bay last week. I had heard reports that the smallmouth bass were active there and I wanted to get a piece of the action. Turns out, I am not the only one in the county, state or the country who had the same idea. When I pulled up to the "one-holer" boat launch near the Rowleys Bay Resort there were three rigs already backed up waiting to launch. Undeterred, I patiently waited my turn to launch. Once I got the boat tied up to the dock, I drove to the designated trailer parking area behind the lodge. The boat launch at Rowleys Bay is a state owned public launch and there are limited parking slots available for rigs. (15, to be precise). When I drove to the lot, it was obvious that the fifteen maximum had been met and exceeded. Understandably, the resort discourages anglers from using the parking area for their guests. Bottom line, I had no place to park my truck and trailer this side of the Mink River Basin. I was getting disgusted. Although Door County has a woefully limited number of decent boat launches on the lakeside (Baileys Harbor being the best one), I had never had "grid-lock" keep me off the water. A quick perusal of the plates on the vehicles in the lot showed that anglers from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and other Midwest states had found their way to Door County to fish bass. I figured I'd let them have Rowelys Bay today (what choice did I have?). I pulled my boat back onto the trailer and headed over to Gills Rock. It was a bit windier there but I did manage a few smallies and more importantly I had the water to myself.
I participated in the 15th Annual Egg Harbor Invitational Bass Tournament Monday. I know I have expressed misgivings about bass tournaments in this space in the past. However, if you are going to have a fishing tournament, this is how it should be done. Ron Zigler, the tournament director and participant, has created a special event. First of all, it is by personal invitation only. The participants are mostly local anglers or guys who have been fishing the area for a long time. Some are avid fishermen. Others are more "occasional". I considered it quite an honor when I was invited to participate in the tournament by friend Gary Gilroy five years ago. The tournament runs on the "honor system" with all fish measured, recorded, and promptly returned to the water. The event is highlighted by camaraderie, conversation and the usual amount of "trash-talk". This year there were about 24 participants with 2-3 anglers per boat. For the third year, good buddy Ed joined me in the boat. One of my local friends and fellow angler, Scott, also joined us in the boat for the first hour since his partner's boat was having some "issues". In this tournament we are all in this together. It is a wonderful atmosphere.
The day was tough for fishing with flat water and highs skies. The guys did manage to boat over 70 smallies, but this was much below previous years. The "Big Daddy" fish was a nice 20.25"er. The best I managed was one about 16". The tournament ended with a "gala award ceremony" at a local restaurant. I will look forward to fishing with all of these anglers in the 16th annual event.
Tight Lines, Bruce
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