2-11-05 - Screamin' Minnow brings in the MOST TROUT!
MP defends his "Dinker King Title" while Randy boats a
HOG - we're both in debt to Capt. Mike.
Waters Fished: Lake Michigan (Wisconsin Waters)
Fish Caught: at least 30 landed, probably over 50 on
Outing Date: 2-11-05
Air Temp: mid-teens rising to 30's
Water Temp: varied from 31F to 43F
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Blue, visibility at least 6'
Fish Species: Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: various stickbaits, crankbaits, spoons etc.
Pattern Color: having a variety in the water was key
Fishing Quality: PHENOMENAL, if not downright INSANE! YOU MUST
All it took was 2 emails to set this trip up; the
first being an invite from Capt. Mike Richow (Screamin'
Minnow Charters) to join him on the water this winter, and the
2nd was to pick the date. This isn't the first time out with Mike;
if you don't remember, read 1-10-04 as
a starter. Capt. Mike has NEVER asked me to "push his service"
- he's just not that kind of guy. By the same token, you know that
when I find a real gem, I blabber it here! The coolest part perhaps
is that Capt. Mike is all about teaching other boaters how to do
it, so if you have a boat and you'd like to be on the water this
time of year, you need to get out with him!
If you can't figure out from the headline, an invite
from Capt. Mike is NOT an invite you turn down. Never. Call in Dead
if you have to. Mike mentioned that there was room on the boat for
a third on our Friday AM trip - who do I know who likes to fish
and doesn't work on weekdays (unless he wants to)? Randy Cochran.
I didn't invite Randy along so much as subtly imply that his attendance
was mandatory ;) My email may have read something like "You're
meeting us at 6:30 AM. Here's directions."
Of course, Friday morning was a wintery mix of
sleet on the roads heading east from Lake Como - despite driving
like a madman I made it safely to the launch around 6:45 AM. After
first confusing a pair of guys on the launch as being Randy and
Mike, I parked, got out and found Randy bundled up and shivering,
waiting at the launch looking kinda lost. Meanwhile Capt. Mike was
in the boat, in the water, anxiously awaiting us for departure!
Nothing else can really be written here that truly
conveys the experience of getting out on the water before dawn in
February in Wisconsin; ice covers the rods, your beard, everything.
As you leave the harbor, at least one member of the party must ride
the bow on Iceberg Patrol. With a 40 MPH boat ride to the fishing
grounds, the windchill can easily be well below zero. As dawn approached,
Mike rigged up mini planers with crankbaits and stickbaits on the
starboard side while instructing me on the same riggin for port.
In minutes we had 8 boards out in the V style, with baits running
at depths of 18" to 8'
Sunrise breaks over the water at the horizon, and
by then the browns (averaging 5-10lbs.) are biting like they're
starved. As the sun first hits the boat, a wave of winter warmth
(or perhaps the constant adrenaline rush from fish after fish) lets
you know the personal sacrifice of comfort is more than worth it.
Not quite the "all hell broke loose" scenario, but basically
for most of the morning we had consistent action, at least a few
hits on every pass. I did notice that despite being "rigged"
identically, starboard seemed to just be working better. It's that
pro experience that Capt. Mike brings - at least that's my guess.
Basically, I'll let the pictures and video do the talking for a
We all had a great morning trolling, and heck that
would've been a fine way to end our day! Plenty of fish were boated.
However, throughout the morning Capt. Mike had mentioned vertical
jigging for browns as an alternate form of entertainment. Around
11:00 or so, we pulled lines and headed to a 2nd spot to try our
hands at enticing bluewater browns without motor asist! Back to
the spread ;)
So there you have it. Something like 30 or more
browns boated between 6:45 AM and 1:45 PM. INSANE action. I think
the comments from another boat sum it up best. After Randy landed
his 24lber, the guy shouted over, basically to the effect of "you
think you're so great", specifically "So you THINK your
a good fisherman?!". Mike's reply - "I KNOW I'm a good
fisherman". Yup. Mike definitely knows his browns! And as for
those browns, how about some more pics of that PIG! Yes, it was
harvested to make a mold for taxidermy replica blanks.
So I'll leave you with this personal observation
- my arm was sore for a good 24 hours. Arguably the longest, toughest
fight was not Randy's pig but the one I hooked into while trolling...hooked
into SIDEWAYS that is. My god it took forever to get landed - I
thought I was onto a new record until I finally got it up to surface!
One of the other interesting tidbits - we definitely
boated at least one peculiar fish that may or may not have been
an Atlantic Salmon. With identifying characteristics that more or
less leaned both ways, it's perhaps most likely that it was simply
an unclipped Seeforellen Strain, but that's just my take on the
matter. Draw your own conclusions; here's the info
Rakers - - 17 by my count if I in fact had the
right gill section. That would make it a brown
Lateral Line Scales - did 2 counts, not sure I know how to do it
precisely. Came up with 119 and 109 - I think I just skipped 10
or added 10 in my counting. Both counts would make this an atlantic
Vomerine Head - no discernable teeth present on this fish (used
a needle to attempt to hook into the teeth) - a series of "pores"
suggest a diagonal line. Not really like either species description.
Vomerine Shaft - Seemed like one offset line of
teeth with one offest to the other side. Leans towards description
of Atlantic Salmon, but with the possibility that there were actually
2 rows (by the one offset to the side) it's definitely more towards
a brown. Another tossup.
Tongue - When compared to a confirmed brown trout, the tongue of
our specimen is more narrow and tapered (Atlantic) but i'd still
consider it squared (Brown). Again, a tossup.
Maxillary - after further review, it's a tough call. As per the
descriptions I've read, I'd say it matches the Atlantic, extending
to the rear edge of the eye (of course, if you rotate the fish on
it's Z axis the amount of extension behind the eye changes....)
Caudal Fin - When compared to a confirmed brown, our specimen does
have a slight fork. Tips of caudal fin appear "sharper"
and more "pointed" when compared to the confirmed brown.
This leans towards an Atlantic
Caudal Peduncle - Again, no doubt about this one; the Caudal Peduncle
of our specimen fish is much narrower and the fish is easily tailed.
The length of the Caudal Peduncle (distance from adipose to first
rays of tail) is noteably, visibily longer than on a brown of the
same size. This again leads to Atlantic.
Adipose - The adipose has two spots; references cite Atlantics as
having no spots, while others only say that browns MUST have spotted
anal fins, Atlantics "optional" for spots. Overall, this
leads to Brown.
Anal Fin - By My Count, 10. - Atlantics listed as 9...this leads
General Conformity - our specimen is much more "streamlined"
than all of the browns we landed in a similar size class - this
leans towards Atlantic
General Coloration - most all spots, the few that are present, are
above the lateral line. All spots are "X" type spots -
skin pigment that shows through between scales. This leads towards
General Behavior - This fish was AIRBORN all the time during the
fight. Tailwalked several seconds. This too leads towards Atlantic
at first glace, except for the fact that our other small browns
also went briefly airborn. Nothing like our specimen fish, but as
the small browns were jumping too, there only difference is that
this fish was much MORE airborn. If it's a trait of an Atlantic,
I'm only slightly leaning towards the behavior has being indicative
of an Atlantic.
Distribution - We were definitely in BROWN TROUT country, and based
on this alone the changes are much more likely that this isn't an
Atlantic, but rather an "Atlanticesque" Brown. However,
we've had strays of other species show up down here before (i.e.
Pinks), it's winter, the water is cold, there's no temperature barrier
down here to keep a fish from wandering. Furthermore, there are
Atlantics in Huron, it's not such a long trek for such a fish.
Looks like it's time to start the 2005 trophy gallery!
That's it for something like a season's worth of fishing in one
day! I'm OUTTA HERE!