Blind Pig Theory of Fishing
I don't know very much about catching fish in Door County. There I said it. Oh, I catch fish, but that's mainly because I fish a lot. I mean, "Even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while." Every so often, maybe after a particularly good day, I get full of myself and think that I am a pretty damn good angler. Then I meet a guy like Steve and confirm that I have an awful lot to learn. Fishing is a very humbling sport.
Let me back up a little. After the usual gluttony that is Thanksgiving, I had a chance to troll on the bayside for a coupe of hours on Friday. It was a beautiful night with a fantastic sunset, but I only boated one smallie. With water temperatures in the mid 40's, I expected to do better. I marked a lot of fish but apparently they were not feeding. After all, if I can't catch'em they must not be biting, right?
Saturday the stiff west breeze kept me off the water. While walking Dooley, our smug little West Highland Terrier, past the BH marina I noticed a guy bundled under a dark blue parka protecting himself against the wind. It was actually a pretty nice day for late November in northern Wisconsin, but most "normal" people would still say it was pretty cold. It looked like the guy was fishing! What? I had not seen anyone fishing the marina for several weeks. Maybe he was just trying to take a break from too much "family time" by hiding at the marina. I wandered over to give him some encouragement, thinking he would appreciate some company to break up the tedium of not catching fish. As I approached, I notice he was fishing with what appeared to be a well-used spinning rod. Pretty light tackle for anything he might catch in the marina. Out on the water I took note of a big red and white plastic bobber. You know, the kind the little kids use on the causeway on Kangaroo Lake. This guy obviously could use some advice from an accomplished Baileys Harbor angler like yours truly so I magnanimously walked up to Steve (the angler's name I later found out) ready to set him straight. "How's it going?" I blurted, expecting the usual "Oh, not much." Instead Steve beamed "Pretty darn good! I got a couple nice ones. One is a brown trout, but I'm not sure what the other one is. Maybe you can tell me." Steve strolled over to the water's edge and hefted a stringer on which hung a beautiful red and orange spotted male brown trout along with a fat silver-grey rainbow. I had not caught a trout in the lake for over two weeks. I had to find out Steve’s' "secret". Turned out Steve was relatively new to the county. He moved here from Florida. I was beginning to like this guy. Steve said he caught the brown on a piece of crawler. (I never used crawlers for browns in the lake.) He said he was using a piece of frozen shrimp from the grocery store when he caught the steelhead. (What else would a guy from Florida use?) So here was a guy who knew little or nothing about the fishing in the area using crawlers and shrimp under a plastic bobber who just caught more salmonoids then I had in many, many hours dragging lures the last couple of weeks. As I said, fishing can be very humbling. I had a nice talk with Steve and he even posed for a picture with his catch. Eventfully I bid farewell to Steve wishing him continued luck. I resumed my walk with Dooley with my tail between my legs. Maybe it was my imagination, but Dooley seemed to give me a sideways look as if he now thought somewhat less of me.
Needless to say, I was down at the marina the following day with my bobbers and crawlers (no shrimp, however). After setting out two slip bobbers, one with crawlers and the other with a spawn sac, I started casting with a third spinning rod. Almost immediately a trout, about 20 inches long, jumped completely out of the water just off the boat launch. The adrenaline was starting to pump. I got a hit, then another bump. The fish were definitely here. A nice brown trout followed my lure and suck it in. I set the hook, had him on for an instant then "there he was, gone". I did not have to wait long to exact my revenge. A few casts later a heavy fish engulfed my spoon, hooks were set and the fight was on. A few surface splashes, a lusty lunge and the brown was steered to the marina's edge. A beautiful hook-jawed 30" brown trout weighing in at 11.5 pounds found its way into my waiting net. By the way Steve had showed up this day as well and assisted in the landing of the fish and the ensuing picture taking. I casted another half-hour or so seeing several fish swirling in the shallow waters of the marina basin and getting a few more bumps. No more fish caught. But I'll be back.
Before I left the marina with the nice brown in tow, I thanked Steve for his help and for reminding me that as soon as you think you know all about fishing, think again. When I got back home, I dangled the fish in front of Dooley making sure he got a good look and whiff of my catch. Perhaps he would be more impressed with me now. I could almost hear him mumble in that distinctive Westie way "You're right, Ugarte. I am a little more impressed with you."
Tight Lines, Bruce
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