Great Anglers, Good Fishing
The 2017 Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament is now history. Many thanks to all of those who organized, supported or participated in the tournament. In my opinion, two things were pretty obvious to anyone who attended the awards gathering on Sunday at the fire station or who viewed the winners’ list and pictures on the BHBTT Facebook page. First, there were a lot of good anglers fishing in the tournament. I most definitely was not one of them! The meager performance of Team Noor Door Floor was not something I am going to brag about. However, there were a lot of brag-able fish caught by some rightfully proud anglers. Of course, we are getting a skewed sample of the fishing success. Only the anglers who actually caught fish registered them and showed up to collect their prizes. There were about 300 entrants in the tournament and we did not hear much from those who caught little or nothing (and I am sure there were plenty). There is little evidence to support the often-repeated saying that "90% of the fish are caught by 10% of the fishermen.", but some anglers are consistently more successful then others. Many of the anglers in the tournament were local guys who have fished browns for years. Local knowledge and experience is a huge advantage. Several were professional fishermen, guides, charter captains or crew. Time on the water is a big plus. Most were just people who love to fish and put time and effort into it. All anglers get "skunked" on occasion and luck does play a role in fishing success, but clearly some fishermen know how to increase their odds.
I did learn some valuable tips in talking to some of the successful anglers Sunday and throughout the tournament. Often when you ask a fisherman, "Hey, where did you catch that?" they will answer something like "in da mout" or "in da lake". Others were much more generous with their information and I appreciated it. We all have a lot to learn and some have more to share.
The second thing that I concluded from the tournament is that the sport fishing population of brown trout in Door County is pretty healthy. I know, I've hear guys talking about how the fishing was always better "years ago", but in my experience this is as good as I have seen. A quick look at the WDNR Stocking Records for Door County shows that considerable effort has been made to maintain and improve the sport fishing in the surrounding waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Some of us may think that they could be doing more and doing it better, but time and money are being expended.
So is the fishing better now then it was in the past? It is a lot different now then years ago. The Great Lakes have had to absorb tremendous pressure from invasive species, pollution and other human activity. Lake Michigan is a vastly different ecosystem then it was 50 years ago. Some of the human impacts have been to the advantage of sport fishing such as the stocking of non-indigenous species like salmon or the building of better marina facilities. So, all things considered, has sport fishing been made better or worse from all the changes? This point is argued anytime anglers gather, particularly when alcohol is involved. I am not going to wade into that now, but it is an interesting question that invites thought and debate.
Just because the tournament is over does not mean brown trout fishing stops at least not for me. I'm going to keep chasing them as long as I can find them. That said; I have heard the walleyes in the southern end of the Bay are starting to hit and there is also a report of some really early salmon being caught. Can smallmouth fishing be far away? This is a great place to be a fisherman.
Tight Lines, Bruce
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