I kept finding myself complaining about the lack of quality fisheries near my home. With serious thoughts of moving in mind, I decided I better give a good quality effort to catch a trophy fish close to home before I took any further action. I set my eyes on the Brown Trout fishery in Lake Michigan and began doing research. I found that ice fishing the harbors in SE Wisconsin seemed to be the ticket to a big one. My first two weekends out were fruitful, but no monsters were produced. Last weekend I took two buddies up and promised them some great fishing at the least. When we arrived on Sunday, our prime spot was already taken. As bummed as we were, that was the least of our problems. The surrounding area ended up being bombarded by power augers, heavy foot traffic, and even a generator! Not one fish was caught. Moral was low when the alarm clocks went off at 4:30 a.m. the next morning. We headed out to the ice and set everything up by 5:30 a.m. We were the only ones out and feeling happy about our decision to take off work. However, the hour before sunrise went by and we didn’t even get a nibble. Another hour went by and things were looking bleak. I decided to make an audible on our presentation and ran to the baitshop to grab some shiners and minnows. When I got there they only had six shiners left. While they weren’t the spunkiest looking, they were at least going to provide a different presentation. I returned and re-baited all of our lines. Within twenty minutes we had our first flag. It was a one-eyed 24″ pike. Disgruntled we went back to our Marcums and jigging poles. At 9:30 a.m. the rod right next to me went off. I ran over and grabbed it, ripping it up off the ice. I could tell it was a nice fish but wasn’t sure how nice. It just kept going and going and going! Zzzzzzzz, Zzzzzzzzz, Zzzzzzzzz! Drag was ripping out like crazy. I stayed calm knowing that I had 100 yards of fresh line on. After about fifteen minutes of hard runs and me gaining little on the fish, I decided to tighten the drag a little and see if I could start really steering her back to the hole. The fish was calm so I started lifting. Nothing. The fish was dead weigh! At this point I am pretty sure I have a monster Brown Trout. The fight continued with me occasionally gaining on the fish and then the fish responding with another run. Suddenly my line lost all tension and my rod straightened out. No!!! I reeled as fast as I could. I was devastated. My first twenty turns still left me with slack. Finally, ten or so more cranks later I felt weight again. The fish had returned to right under the hole. I started being able to really start steering the fish in now. It was clearly tired after its last big run. After two tries, she put her head right in the hole and my buddy was able to lift her onto the ice. We went nuts! After a measurement and some photos we watched her swim back down the hole and into the depths. Ten minutes later I caught a 25″ Brown and my buddy hooked into and landed a 31″ x 19.5″ Brown. My other buddy lost a monster that was at least as big as mine at the hole. What an amazing experience. One of those days that you will never forget. Needles to say, I won’t be moving any time soon.
Species: Brown Trout
Date Caught: 02/18/2013
Kept / Released: Kept
Region of Catch: Region 5
Lure / Bait used: Bait | Shiner