Another annual Door County brown trout trip has come and gone and already I can hardly wait for next years trip.
Last years trip was wrought with bad weather and missed opportunities. We had found some nice fish last year but due to the inability to get out in 35mph winds, we never got the chance to exploit them during the tournament. This year, the weather was much nicer to us and by Friday, we were able to put together a pattern that was putting fish in the boat.
I spent 6-1/2 days in Door County this year fishing the waters of Lake Michigan for brown trout. Larry Pakyz joined me on Tuesday afternoon and was able to spend 5 days in the boat and Dick Straub joined the two of us Wednesday evening, which allowed him to prefish with us on Thursday before fishing with us for the entire 2-1/2 day Bailey’s Harbor Brown Trout Tournament.
The first couple of days we had bright, sunny skies with east winds between 5-15 mph. Not really ideal conditions but at least we had some wind. The fishing on those first couple of days was poor and we struggled to put anything in the boat at all. We spent time on Eagle Harbor in Ephraim on the Green Bay side of the peninsula and Moonlight Bay, North Bay and Rowley’s Bay, all on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula. All we had to show for our efforts over the first three days of fishing was two pike, and two brown trout. And unfortunately for Larry, all of those fish came before he arrived!
Little did Larry know at the time, but his luck was about to improve dramatically! On Thursday, we headed down from our headquarters in Bailey’s Harbor to fish the Sturgeon Bay shipping canal. With Dick joining us in the boat, we would be allowed an additional three lines to troll with.
We ran 8 lines most of the time the rest of the week while trolling the Green Bay side from Sturgeon Bay all the way up to Eagle Harbor in Ephraim. We ran F7’s, F9’s, and F11’s in black, gold, blue, chartreuse and orange from 100-120′ behind Off Shore planer boards while trolling in water depths of 8 to 25′ deep.
We found active, hungry trout around 9:30am, and they didn’t stop biting for long the rest of the day. We had a blast catching one after another, and missing a few along the way didn’t seem to hurt as much today. A total of 11 ranging in size from about 17" to 27" long were netted. One of our best days ever fishing for brown trout. And to top it off, we popped a couple of smallies along the way.
Now, we were all wondering if we could do it again tomorrow on the first day of the tournament.
On Friday morning things got started off bright and early with the browns picking up right where they left off the day before. Same program, same results! By the end of Friday, we had caught 13 more browns. The average size was better overall, but our top three fish from Thursday were all bigger than the biggest we caught today. Dang! Seems like every year, we always catch the biggest ones before the tournament starts.
By weeks end, we had landed a total of 27 brown trout, 5 smallies, (all between 16-18" long) and two pike.
A total of 220 entrants paid their way into the Bailey’s Harbor Brown Trout tournament and it paid out to the top 60 places. We took home 39nth, 40th and 59nth place to basically win our money back.
Most importantly though, we all had a blast catching fish and this summer, we will be able to share the grilled and smoked brown trout with family and friends alike.
I can hardly wait until next year!
Joel "Boog" Ballweg