Brown Trout Tournament - Day 2
Beautiful Brown Trout

Harbor Angler Report, April 21st Photo

Lake Michigan brown trout anglers are truly to be admired. Or maybe pitied. Who else would crash their boat through early ice, in a blinding snowstorm or into gale force winds dressed in more clothes then most ice fishermen wear in pursuit of the wily Salmo trutta? Already during the first two days of the Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament I have endured cold drizzle, fog, numb fingers, cold-water spray in my face and waves heights that made me more than a little uncomfortable. And I'm a wimp. I don't go out at the break of dawn and fish all day like many intrepid anglers do. I have seen guys off the breakwater in Baileys Harbor waist deep in bone-chilling water with waves crashing around them. Not to mention those who brave late-season ice to set up tips-ups for browns.

So what drives these zealots? I have a few theories.

1) The long, hard Wisconsin winters. Brown trout are one of the first species that can be fished in open water in Green Bay and Lake Michigan. You might freeze your butt or risk life and limb, but at least you don't have to drill a hole.

2) Big browns are accessible to the average angler. Where else can you have an opportunity to land a 20-pound trout close to shore in small boats or even from the shoreline or marina? Fly fishing anglers out west consider a 17" fish a "nice one". The only prize that would get you in the tournament is possibly the smallest fish entered.

3) Brown trout are beautiful fish. I am continually amazed by the wonderful variety of colors, spot patterns, shapes and configurations of browns. Take a look at this picture of five browns Paul and I caught off the Quarry in Sturgeon Bay last season. These fish were all caught within an hour and in an area about the size of a football field. Yet look at the spectacular diversity. It is sometimes hard to believe these are all the same species.

Oh, and one more thing; brown trout are delicious! Fresh caught brown trout grill or broiled!! A meal for a king or everyman. I love these fish.

Now you might be wondering why I am babbling on about the virtues of brown trout. Well, to be honest, I am trying to avoid detailing my day on the water today. All we managed were two small browns. One we tossed back and the other looked really weird. I thought I was having a bad day until I took a look at this fish. He has a good part of his tail missing, a mangled pectoral fin, and a crooked humped-back. This fish had a rough life. I did not feel bad about taking him out of the gene pool.

We will be back on the water in the morning chasing those wonderful browns.

Tight lines. Bruce