Musky Guides vs Milwaukee Brown Trout

Lake with a view of the Milwaukee sky line.
     This is a simple story, a story about two musky guides who decided that they wanted to catch a brown trout.  Not your run of the mill Driftless brown trout, nope they wanted to catch a fish worth bragging about, a Great Lakes brown.  Now to be fair I should tell you that both anglers normally strike out when they head to Milwaukee.  The odds were stacked against them when they left the driveway that morning.  Still they had a nervous optimism as they rolled down the highway.  The story goes something like this...
Little Boat.
     Late Wednesday night my phone lit up with a text notification.  It was JJ of the Madison Musky Addict guide service.  I read the text in disbelief, "I want to try and catch a brown trout for the new smoker."  I read the text again just to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  You see JJ is a musky guide, only a musky guide.  He puts his boat away when the water gets over 80 degrees.  If the musky season isn't open in Madison, chances are he isn't fishing.  Seizing the opportunity I replied as fast as my fingers and auto correct would allow.  "I'm available Saturday and I have everything we need to try and land a brown trout."  This was a slight overstatement to be honest, but I was really excited to go fishing with JJ for something other than muskies.  As the next few days came and went we exchanged many text messages about where we would be fishing, what gear we should use, and whether or not we wanted to troll.  We decided to stay in the harbor since it was his first time on Lake Michigan in his trusted sixteen foot Yarcraft.  I rigged up rods Friday night (after a quick trip to Cabelas) and desperately tried to fall asleep.  Because as everybody knows, you just don't sleep well the night before a fishing trip.
     JJ arrived a little early, it's the guide in him he's always early.  I finished pouring my coffee as we discussed the day that lied ahead.  JJ was talking about the upcoming musky season and what he heard the hot new lures of 2016 were going to be while I finished getting my Ice Armor on.  I loaded up my gear in his truck and we started down the road headed for the McKinley Marina, in beautiful downtown Milwaukee.
Big Boat.
     First thing I noticed when launching the boat was how small that Yarcraft suddenly seemed.  Lake Michigan commands respect from every angler and it had our full attention as we left the dock.  We made our way out of the marina and quickly decided that we both had no interest in trolling.  JJ asked, "Where should we start casting?"  I had no idea.  "Let's start near shore." I replied.  "By the shore?"  he said, "Only you would get on a boat and start thinking about shore fishing."  He was right of course, but I really wanted him to get a brown trout and the only way I have ever landed one was with my feet firmly planted on the ground.
     We made our way around the harbor casting towards the shoreline.  I told JJ that the best bait this time of year was darter head jigs with 2" Gulp minnows.  He quickly pointed out that I didn't give him a Gulp minnow.  He was right, I explained to him that I don't use Gulp because it always spills in my backpack.  So we were using the Powerbait equivalent.  Over the years I've become a believer in Berkley products.  The Powerbait line just plain works and today it didn't disappoint.  It wasn't long after we crossed the river mouth that my rod doubled over.  The fight was over much quicker than I expected and soon I had a nice little brown trout resting comfortably in the musky sized net on the bottom of the boat.
Brown trout come in such an amazing variety of colors.
     Around this time the wind started to pick up and that little Yarcraft was getting tossed around a bit.  JJ recommended that we turn the point and move up the river mouth a little bit.  I agreed with his decision as the boat rocked back and forth beneath my feet.  We continued casting along the shoreline making sure to cover as much of the water column as possible.  Then just as JJ was making an argument for maybe switching out his swim jig for a crankbait he got a hit.  Now it should be noted that JJ isn't used to playing fish.  He's used to using big rods, heavy drags, and 80 pound braided line.  The look on his face was priceless as he desperately fought all his instincts and let the fish run and jump all over.  "Keep the rod bent!" I kept yelling, "Work the head towards the net!"  "I know how to fish!"  He hollered back at me.  It was absolute chaos, but soon his first brown trout was secured in the net.  I hoisted the net up over the side of the boat and we both watched as the lure dropped effortlessly from the fishes mouth.  It was a high five moment if ever we have had one.  JJ grabbed the fishing grips and lifted the trout for a picture.  As you can see, he couldn't have been happier.
     We fished a bit longer before deciding to call it a day.  The wind had picked up it made for a fun albeit wet ride back to the launch.  We had an absolute blast that day on Lake Michigan.  It was the first time we both landed a fish in Milwaukee.  Sometimes I forget how much fun it is to just get out on the water with the company of a good friend.  Not guiding, not competing, not testing gear.  Just being outdoors with somebody who gets you.  Somebody that's just as excited to be in the same moment as you are.  So as you can see this really was a simple story.  A story of two friends who went out to catch some fish.
     Tight Lines.

Comments

Featured In

Featured In