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1-10-04 - The caravan of Great Lakes Anglers all getting ready...just waiting for the police to come down and open up the park gate!
This is what I call "Insane Dedication"; Capt. Rich breaks the launch free of ice.
Mike rocks his boat trying to free it from the trailer so we can launch!
Finally we break the boat free and get underway.
Heading out we'll have to navigate some icy water.
Probably 10 minutes into our trip and we've already boated a few; this was my largest landed
(Copyright 2004 Rich Gorske)
Captain Rich boats a post-spawn male...
Capt. Rich's largest for the day!
Captain Mike got in on the action many times too...here with a beautiful hen.
I actually didn't get to take a lot of picture; we were so busy with the rods constantly going off!
Rich brings another one in close to the boat.
It's been a long time since I've personally seen chrome browns!
Rich models one of our smaller catches of the day!
Mike is back at it again!
On the horizon what looks like waves crashing is actually the ice flow.
After landing our limit and then some we motor over to see how the FAT boat is doin'!
FISH ON!
Tim S. gets a piece of the action while Brennon brings out the net.
Alex takes over, prepared to land the fish as it thrashes by the bow.
Another brown successfully landed for the FAT crew...
Tim shows off the catch.
It's time to head back to shore...
But first we have to navigate the ice fields which have moved in.

Myself and Capt. Mike hold up some NICE fish as we stopped for the photo-op against the bergs...
(Copyright 2004 Rich Gorske)

The "FATMEN"; Richard Brown (FAT) and Rich Gorske (Capt. Rich).
Two of our larger fish; as per Capt. Rich's identifications a post-spawn male German Brown Trout (either Wild Rose or St. Croix Strain), and a female Seeforellen Brown Trout below.
"Catch of the Day!"
The Fly-Fishers (Tim, Myself, Brennon and FAT) pose with the catch...
Followed by the pros (Alex, Capt. Rich, Capt. Mike, Doug) - Doug was supposed to head out with us but his wife turned off his phone!!! Guys, learn from this!

1-10-04 - The ULTIMATE Ice Fishing Experience...

Waters Fished: Lake Michigan (WI waters)
Fish Caught: Capt. Mike's boat - 20 landed with a limit (15) creeled, 6 more lost. FAT's boat - 6 creeled with at least as many lost.
Outing Date: 1-10-04
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temp: Around 34F
Water Temp: 32 to 42 depending on location
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Big Water Blue
Fish Species: Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Stickbaits / Crankbaits
Pattern Color: Assorted Naturals
Fishing Quality: INSANE!

Brennon is back in the area, home from Minnesota, and we've been planning for the last month to go ice fishin' with Tim S. and FAT. Saturday is the day; it'll be my first experience Ice Fishing. So Friday night I'm still at the office when I get a call from FAT, which goes something like this...

"Matt, can you get up at 4:00 am tomorrow?"

"Sure, I think I can do that if you give me a wakeup call...why?"

"Well, I got a call and we're going to the lake...the browns are HOT!"

Somehow I make it to FAT's around 5:00 am, and after 30 minutes of looking for some downriggers we get on our way to meet up with Tim and Brennon. Yes, if you haven't guessed it, we're not "ice fishing" in the "traditional sense". We're going to brave the ICE on Lake Michigan! After gassing up the boat and the Bronco, we rendevouz with Tim & Brennon at the McD's. A couple steak, egg and cheese bagels get the blood pumping and we're ready to go.

We then met up with Capt. Rich, his son Alex, and Capt. Mike. Apparently we'll be waiting for someone to come down and open up the park gate, so in the meantime we start preparing Fat's boat. Alex decides he'd like to fish with FAT, so a trade is made; I will fish on Capt. Mike's boat with Capt. Rich and Mike this morning.

Finally, the police come down and open the gates, and it's a mad-dash to the launch. Apparently Capts. Rich & Mike have been taking care of the launch all week in an attempt to keep it open. Now THAT's what I call DEDICATION! Capt. Rich has even brought the snow plow and gets to work clearing the launch of both snow and ice. You may hear so often about the "Hard Core" Winter Steelheader...I think these guys have the stream steelheader beat hands down. I think these Winter Trollers catch more fish too...

But the fun doesn't stop there; Mike will be first to launch this morning. He brings the boat down and into the water, but unlike the usual it doesn't slide off the trailer. In fact, the trailer is floating? It's frozen to the boat! We first leave it in the water a few minutes, and it slowly thaws, first at the front, and then with the help of just about everyone, it's loose (but still frozen). FINALLY, FAT gets on the tongue and is able to push the boat off the trailer with his feet!

We're definitely running "late" as it's probably 8:00 am already, so without waiting for the others we're in the boat and headed out of the harbor. It's a slow ride at first, as we are running through chunks of ice until we're finally clear in the lake. Mike kicks in the 200+ HP engine and we're flying (and freezing) for a moment, but then we power back down to navigate another field of ice.

FINALLY we're there, and within just a couple minutes Mike and Rich have some gear in the water while I'm at the wheel. Literally minutes after we've set out, Mike turns to me and says "take this"...FISH ON ALREADY!

Well, it continues like this all morning. We all do some driving, rigging, and landing of fish...a very "team effort" which honestly I really got a kick out of. Each of us land several fish, no one is really keeping track although if you asked me, I think Mike and Rich may have handed a few extra to the "new guy"...thanks guys!

I'd have to say the morning was simply a blast; it seems that at almost any point there was at least ONE fish one...several times two. I do recall at one point holding a rod in each hand, both with fish on, while Rich and Mike were clearing lines that they had been sending out. INSANE!

One of the more memorable moments was when I was sending out a port planer board...I was just about to set it into the holder when the board shot out of the water...FISH ON!

Just before 10:00 we had our limit in the well and had landed several more fish so we called it a day. Throughout the morning we never got a "full spread" out...that's how active the bite was on Mike's boat. Capt. Rich had the fish counter to 14, and as we were bringing in we hooked up with another 6 fish, so all of the lip-hooked fish were let go...and the last fish rounded out the limit.

So now it was time to see how the Crew on Fat's boat was doing. As we closed in Tim held up a nice brown...that's good news. Alex was probably enjoying himself a lot, being the boss on this boat instead of 2nd mate! They definitely weren't to their limit yet, and I asked Capt. Rich and Mike why that could be. While I'm not giving away any of Capt. Rich's secrets, the jist was that Alex had been running them just a touch too deep...only a foot or two difference.

We spent some time photographing and videotaping the FAT crew while they rerigged and hooked up with a couple more fish. After that it was time to head in, it was about 11:00 am. The FAT crew had a fair day and came back in with 6. Mike, Rich and I had a phenomenal day with 20 landed, 15 kept, and 6 or more lost.

The morning was rounded out back at Mike's place...taking some pictures and Alex, Mike and Rich cleaned the catch like a factory crew...it was done in minutes! All in all what a morning!

So there's MANY more pictures than words today..and honestly I could've taken many more if I hadn't been so busy landing fish! My left arm STILL HURTS from fighting fish. In many respects I'm glad I didn't have a day like this FLY FISHING...I would have been dead. All the same I did sleep for the next 16 hours or so!

I'll leave you with this; I was simply awestruck at the level of skill and knowledge displayed by Mike and Capt. Rich (www.fishmeister.com). I'm left with the impression that they were so well-prepared that basically the moment the rods hit the water the fish started biting and never let up. I learned a LOT about trolling in Lake Michigan and yet I know that information is just a minute slice of what they know. I can't think of better guys to book a trip with, so if you're considering that at ANY time of year, give them a shout! And while it wasn't quite the "ice fishing" Tim, Brennon and I had in mind, it was definitely ICE fishing all the same!

  MP 

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