Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great Lakes Angler : Milwaukee River Salmon Fishing Plans

This Friday night the Great Lakes Anlger and Mike, from Angling with Mplant, another Chicago fishing blog, are heading up to stay with a friend named Tyler for the night. We'll be fishing the Milwaukee river all day Saturday. Look for me in woods-camo hip boots, a black waterproof coat, and grey hat.

I'll likely be fishing somewhere to the south of Estabrook park and would be happy to say hello and shoot the breeze with you if we happen to be jockeying for the same hole or run. For those of you who don't know my name is Tom Harris.

Detailed report and photographs will follow. Mike and I don't like to get skunked and will be fishing hard. If there are fish in any stretch of the Milwaukee on Saturday, we'll find them.

Looking forward to the weekend.

Bounty From the Garden of the Great Lakes Angler

Tomatoes, beans, and green peppers. This is my first year with a real garden. It's been a pleasant one aside from a small mid summer war with a rabbit and some mysteriously vanishing tomatoes this fall.

The joys that the sun and the water bring...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

World Record Breaking Atlantic Salmon

From the Telegraph Journal.

A 150-year-old record for the largest catch at Wilson's Sporting Camps was broken at Coldwater Pool Aug. 30, compliments of a 15-year-old first-timer.

The camp's new record holder, Braden Tierney of Massachusetts, grabbed a fishing pole to go Atlantic salmon fishing for the first time at Wilson's. Chances are when he took to the water he didn't think he'd be breaking a record that had stood for more than a century.

Tierney wrestled in a behemoth of a fish, coming in at 51 inches, at Coldwater Pool. The trip certainly didn't disappoint.

His guide, Karl Wilson, was ecstatic with the record-breaking catch.

"It was quite a fish. And he was pretty excited, as you can imagine."

Wilson was unsure what the record was before, but said this fish beat any fish since, with previous outstanding catches usually reeling in a "couple in (the) 40-inch range."

But this record was about 10 minutes away from not happening, Wilson said.

He noted after being out on the water for a while, Tierney's father, Tom, decided it was about time the crew wrapped things up. Giving the fishermen 10 more minutes before heading home, Braden and Karl set to work.

"He knew what he was doing," Wilson said of Tierney.

Then, the salmon caught the line and the fight was on. After tearing and tugging for about half an hour, Tierney got hold of the monster fish.

"Finally, we were lucky enough," Wilson said, describing how he knew they had a big fish on the line when it would occasionally jump out of the water.

"It was just a monster. I think I was more excited than they were."

Naturally, the fish was released back in the water, but not before a few pictures of an overjoyed Tierney with his record-breaker were taken.

Although the record-setting angler couldn't be reached for comment, Tierney commented on, the camp's website.

"When we got him to the net, though, he still had plenty of energy left and could have fought for quite a bit longer. As you can see, we had some trouble holding on to him for a picture because of this!"

Some enthusiastic fishermen commented on the site, issuing Tierney their congratulations on breaking the record, saying things like "Braden you're the man," and "Many people fish salmon for a lifetime and never hook anything close to what you caught. You really have something to boast about."

Not surprisingly, Wilson said, Tierney's first time fishing won't be his last.

"They definitely want to come back after that."

Fields of Gold

This last weekend I took the Amtrak home from Milwaukee. Between Milwaukee and Chicago I took a few photographs while speeding through the beautiful golden fields of South-Eastern Wisconsin.

Soon the rivers of Milwaukee river be blanketed in golden leaves and the salmon will be golden to match them.

It's beautiful here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mercury and PCBs in Salmon and Trout in Lake Michigan

"Is it ok to eat fresh Salmon from Lake Michigan?"
"Are there certain layers of fat I should cut out?"
"Should I remove the skin before I cook my Salmon or Trout?"

All commonly asked questions by anglers who intend to fillet and eat the Salmon or Trout that they catch from our beautiful Lake Michigan.

Here are a few answers for you. Firstly, yes in almost all cases it is ok to eat Salmon and Trout you catch in the lake. In all cases (with all species of fish) it is better to eat smaller, younger fish rather than trophy sized ones. This method of thinking is based upon the time the fish has to build up contaminants in it's body. The longer a fish is alive in the lake, the more PCB's, Mercury, and other contaminants it will have. So consider letting go that 20 pound 4 year old King Salmon, and keep that 8 pound 3 year old.

The same goes with Steelhead and Brown Trout, which can live to be even older than its short lived brother the King Salmon. These fish can live 5 years and longer, so consider eating fish between 18-26" before you take a 35" Steelhead home to the dinner table.

There are certain layers of fat, which contains the majority of the contaminants that should be cut out. The belly meat, and fat along the lateral line are examples of these tissues that can be removed during filleting. A diagram can be seen here.

Lastly, The skin, and layer between the skin and meat also contains a good portion of the contaminants kept within a fish. I always either remove the skin, or in the case of grilling or smoking the fish, will leave the skin on, but peel it away upon serving.

For information pertaining to the most recent sport fish consumption advisories feel free to contact:

Environmental Protection Agency at : 217.782.3362

Illinois DNR : 847.294.4134

Great Lakes Angler : Now on Twitter

I never thought I'd do it, but for the good of the Great Lakes Angler... Here we are, on Twitter. If you're a twitter user, you'll be able to find us at:

Rolling onward and upward, stay with the Great Lakes Angler.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Salmon Fishing on the Milwaukee River : 9/27/2009

Today I was blessed with the opportunity to teach an amazing 11 year old how to fly fish, and needless to say, the day needed no Salmon to make it any better. This young man picked up my eight weight and was throwing a woolly bugger like his life depended on in less than an hour.

Salmon were not on the move in Milwaukee today... 4 hours of fishing produced 1 take down on a nice long drift through some deeper current. That's it... I saw one other fly fisherman hook up, only to play the fish like he'd never used a fly rod before and lose it after a short battle.

The Great Lakes Angler is off to Connecticut to photograph a corporate headquarters. While I'm gone the river will call, and I will not be able to answer.

It is pouring rain right now, that kind of rain that will only last minutes and will cool the air ten degrees before it stops falling. Water was below my feet this afternoon while I swung a fly rod with a young man by my side, it fell on my head while I knelt next to him and watched his back cast roll out toward his father behind him on the bank. It surrounds me now in curtains and waves. It is what makes the existence of this blog.

Until Thursday my friends. The salmon won't wait for me, go court them on our rivers.

South-Eastern Wisconsin Salmon Report : September 27th 2009

Sheboygan : Chinook Salmon and Steelhead have entered the river and can be found in some numbers in the lower sections.

Milwaukee River : Nearing a prime state of fresh fish entering the river, and not a whole lot of angler pressure. Next weekend looks promising after low pressure, west winds, and recent rain.

Grant Park : Oak Creek : Fish can be found in very small numbers and are holding only in the deepest of the holes, more water will greatly improve fishing if we get some rain this week. Fish that are in the river now are still silver though and should be very good eating.

Root River : Salmon are trickling in, cover ground, work deep holes and you might find yourself with a lively King Salmon with your hook in it's mouth.

Pike River : Reports from friends say there are a few fish in the very lowest sections of the river, it may be worth fishing by next weekend, I'd be hesitant to try it if more rain doesn't get the flow up. Casting from shore may be a better option at it's mouth.

Waukegan, IL : Some trout have been caught recently from the South Rocks and from Government Pier. Action is still spotty.

User submitted photograph of a King Salmon caught this weekend. Way to go Keith!

Asain Carp Consume 40%-60% of Their Body Weight Each Day in Plankton

... and they can weigh up to 60-100 pounds...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Broken Rod, A 22 Pound King Salmon : 24 Hours in Search of Salmon

I stepped out of a friend's car at around 9:00 p.m. yesterday and began my walk out on McKinley Pier in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the beginning of the Salmon hunt. I came equipped with a box of spoons, 2 boxes of crank baits, 1 box of spinners, a box of my salmon flies, and 3 fishing rods.

The rain was coming down gently, wind was from the north, and large swells were thundering in from the south-east, left over from a day of hard winds. There were only a handful of other anglers on the pier, I passed all of them and headed straight for Milwaukee Harbor's North Gap, a favorite in low pressure, high wave conditions. I casted "moonshine" glow spoons for something like an hour to no avail, so I switched spots and tied on my tried and true X-Rap 11 deep runner, in blue and white.

8 or 10 casts in I had a bump, swung my 10' 6" float n' fly casting rod up and set the hook. I immediately knew I had a king salmon on as it turned to make a deep, hard run toward the harbor. As the drag unwound quickly I suddenly heard a loud crack, the kind of crack you hear when snapping dry kindling to start a fire, and the top 4 feet of my rod slipped down the line, quickly heading for the salmon.

I've never broken a rod before, and always wondered how people manage it. I suspect there was a defect in this rod, as it broke well down into the meat of the rod, and I have landed a handful of large fish on this rod before. It is, however, a new rod that has been taken care of well and only brought out half a dozen times for casting.

I tried fighting the fish with half a rod for another minute but the fish ran toward me and I couldn't keep enough pressure on the fish and the lure slipped from it's jaws. I retrieved the front of my pole and, disappointedly, decided it was time to call it an early night.

I casted a dozen or so times on my way in, stopping every 15 feet with my second rod to try for redemption but it was to no avail.

I walked the 3 or 4 miles to a friend's fifth ward loft apartment, thank you Nathan for a spot on the couch. It was a pleasure to meet your beautiful husky dog and catch up.

I woke in the morning with new ambition, as on the walk to Nathan's house I saw my good omen, a fox crossed the road in front of me, and to this day, I have never seen a fox in Milwaukee and not caught fish within the day of seeing it.

I hopped on the northbound 15 bus and, weird glances from everyone that saw me with waders and a bag with 6 fishing pole pieces sticking high out of it aside... made my way toward the river.

The river is still a bit cloudy to be in optimal fishing condition, but I quickly became optimistic when I observed a few fish moving over rapids. The frequency seemed to be that of about one fish moving through every 8-15 minutes. This let me know that not only are there fish there, but they aren't sticking only to holes and that I would be able to fish rapids as well.

It was only about 30 minutes after I started fishing that I hooked up with what would turn out to be a beautiful male King Salmon, 38 inches long, weighing in at 22 pounds on my old spring scale. It had no real kype and still had a lot of fight in it. It was taken from a deep run where a small island split the river near its bank, forcing a water to move quickly through a 10 foot wide channel that was littered with large boulders. It hit a custom made silver spinner with orange bead and orange painted blade.

Within another hour I found my drag screaming as a silvery, recently in the lake king salmon grabbed a different spinner I had tied on and started tearing up river. It took drag for about 10 seconds and then (due to a bind in the line on my reel) snapped my line and was never seen again. It would have been nice to continue to fight that fish. Although it was maybe 8-10 pounds lighter than the first fish of the morning it had just as much fight in it. It even surfaced once to give me the fin and show me just how chrome colored it still was.

Fish slowly decreased their rate of movement upstream as the sun got brighter so I took out the fly rod and started drifting a purple and black egg sucking leach through a deeper hole beyond the base of a large rapid. After a few dozen roll casts I found myself tied into a beautiful steelhead. After tail walking and doing some impressive rolls and aerials I had this fish to the bank. Being a beautiful lake run rainbow trout spawning in the Milwaukee River I didn't want to take this fish, and since my camera was not only across the wide river on the bank, but 100 meters upstream I was happy to let it go unphotographed. It splashed and sloshed it's way back into the pool and stacked back in with what I could only hope were other Steelhead.

I didn't get a tape or weight on this Trout but an educated guess would put it near 30 inches and somewhere in the 8-10 pound range.

Feeling hungry and worn out from miles of wading with a very heavy pack on my back I began my trip home, which involved another bus ride, followed by a ride on the Amtrack and a ride in Chicago on the L. I met a few interested souls today who inquired as to where I might be going with that much fishing equipment. I was happy to relive my story for them, as they were eager to hear it.

It has been a long day, I'm preparing to take my boss and his son back to the Milwaukee to get them on some King Salmon for their first Salmon experience. I hope I can get at least one hook up for them. Reports will follow this one. Enjoy the photographs and until tomorrow, I'll see ya out there.

-Tom Harris
Great Lakes Angler

Thursday, September 24, 2009 Our New Home

Great Lakes Angler is moving on up. We've left the old, long blogspot address behind and have moved up to The old domain name : will still get you here, but feel free to bookmark this new, permanent home for the GLA blog in the years to come.

It's been a great start, we have had readers in almost every state in the union, as well as in 34 countries total.

Google may take a bit to catch searches up to this new domain name, as google cred. will probably need to be rebuilt, a small sacrifice for the greater good of Great Lakes Anglers everywhere.

Tomorrow I grab my rod and chase salmon under changing leaves, changing winds, and under the stars. It's time to forget about photographing architecture for a weekend and enjoy time on the water.

See ya out there (and on here).

-Tom Harris

3 Reasons You Should Visit the Chicago Trout Bum Blog

Reason 1 : The fellow that runs it, David Heyman is a great guy, a good writer, a scholar, and a hell of a fisherman.

Reason 2 : The reason you read my blog is probably to look at some photographs, get fishing reports, and get informed about Great Lakes Fishing opportunities. The trout bum does the same, but in different specialties.

Reason 3 : I'm an aspiring fly fisherman and have learned from reading the blog, which specializes in trout fishing fortuities in the greater Chicago region, specifically the drift-less area in Wisconsin.

Lastly, I consider The Great Lakes Angler and The Chicago Trout Bum's relationship as a sort of partnership, through his blog, readers find mine, and through mine, his in turn. David works at a local fly shop in Chicago and is the man to go to when it comes to tying flies, buying rods, or just plain figuring out what a roll cast is.

Please check out his blog, you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Great Lakes Angler : Now Accessible by Email

The great lakes angler can now be reached via Email. If you wish to ask me a question, give me some feedback, submit content (including photographs or stories) please feel free to drop me a line.

I'd be happy to post relevant user content, especially beautiful Great Lakes fish and scenery.

Find me at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Milwaukee River Salmon Fishing Conditions : 9/22/2009

A storm surged over Milwaukee County today, pushing up the flow of the Milwaukee river to perfect heights to allow salmon to pass upstream. The storm came from the South-West and missed Racine and Kenosha for the most part.

The river peaked just recently above 350 cubic feet per second, and if we don't get any more rain I expect it should be back down to around 150 cf/s by friday. Perfect fall salmon fishing conditions.

Get out your spawn sacs, woolly buggers, and egg sucking leeches. It's time to do some King Salmon fishing in Milwaukee.

I'll be on the river Saturday and Sunday, I hope to see you out there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

2009 Great Lakes Forever Photo Contest Winners

Some impressive great lakes photography from both the professional and armature divisions in this photo contest.

Thirty Mile Point in Winter
1st place, amature division, Gerri Jones - Wilson, NY

Milwaukee River Returns to Fishable Levels

If I had to bet on a river to fish tomorrow I'd pick the mouth of Pike Creek.

If I had to bet on a river to fish this weekend, I'd take the Milwaukee river.

The Milwaukee River is what I consider my home turf. In the years preceding this I spent 4 falls at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, I began to understand and learn stretches of that river like they were my back yard.

Believe it or not I like to fish the Milwaukee river for Salmon, and especially Steelhead just after the flow has been in the 140-150 cubic feet per second zone, when it falls to 132 cubic feet per second. 130-134 cubic feet per second is a sweet spot for the places I like to fish. Don't ask me why, it's just my zone.

Cross your fingers, cross your toes, pray to the god of the fish and do a rain dance, we need one more downpour to get the river up to par for water flowing down, so Salmon can flow up.

Counting the days until I make my pilgrimage back to my homeland on the Milwaukee River, and chase salmon under a canopy of golden foliage.

Wisconsin Salmon Fishing Report : Late September

Finally, the rain has started to fall. Last night we got a better than forecasted downpour of rain. This new flow of cool water out of South-Eastern Wisconsin tributaries will push staging salmon up the rivers.

Salmon feed heavily the first 8-12 hours they enter rivers so directly after rain the lower sections of the Root, Pike, Oak, Milwaukee, and Menominee rivers are sure bets for fresh from the lake Salmon.

Drifting spawn, casting spinners, spoons, and crank baits in deeper pools will all take Salmon in these stretches.

If you can find a spot where a river empties onto a beach instead of into a harbor that would be a perfect location to surf fish for staging salmon. My friend Keith landed this nice little 4 pound King from a beach in Wisconsin just this weekend. Way to go Keith!

This should be the whistle that starts the yearly salmon run. The next 5 or 6 weeks should sport rivers bulging with fresh (followed by not so fresh) King Salmon. They will fight their way upstream until they find a suitable spot to spawn (or hit a dead end) they will then spawn and pass away.

I'm planning a great trip to Kenosha and on up to Milwaukee this weekend. There will be photographs and stories here. Thanks for reading and if you are able to get out and fish in the southern harbors tonight, I would highly suggest it.

See ya out there!

-Tom Harris

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fish Can't Read : September Debut Issue

A new e-magazine, Fish Can't Read debuted this month. I'm a big fan of these magazines that have photo essays and fishing journals from a variety of fishermen around the world.

You can check out this first issue of Fish Can't Read (Singlebarbed is one of the editors on this one) by clicking the links or by searching for it on Google.

Off to find some Salmon, see ya out there!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photographs From Above : Where Trout Live

These photographs are courtesy of Carson Klemp, my great cousin who shows us what it's like at 10,000 feet shooting spinners into swift water, calm lakes, and glacial-cool water for Cut Throat and Brook Trout.

This lake is the one from which I landed my personal best Cutthroat. That was 9 summers ago.

This is Carson, he works at a Copper mine in New Mexico, he and I were able to get out in Michigan and hit a few little Bass at sunset last weekend, it was a blast, but nothing compared to the time we hiked up into the wilderness in Montana years ago, (and 200 caught and released trout a piece). Glad you had a good time this year Carson, maybe some year in the future we can join forces up there.

South-Eastern Wisconsin River (Salmon) Fishing Report : Low Flow

Grim news for anglers across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. The rivers have all but dried up this fall. Southeastern Wisconsin on around the tip of Lake Michigan into the state of Michigan are finding their favorite fall Salmon rivers barely trickling.

The Root River, in Racine Wisconsin, which normally sports one of the healthiest runs of salmon around is barely moving at just 5 cubic feet per second.

Oak Creek, which is one of my favorite streams to fish for migratory Salmonids has also just about stopped moving. It's putting along at 2 cubic feet per second.

My original home turf, the Milwaukee river, which I like to fish late in the run at 120-140 cubic feet per second is running right now at about 100 cf/s. This river needs a bump up to around 200 cf/s for a bit to really get the King Salmon cruising up the rapids.

Letting you all in on some little secrets, my favorite stretch of the Milwaukee river to fish (both with spinners and while fly fishing) is the water north from the Locust Street bridge on up into the lower rapids of Estabrook Park. I like staying away from the areas further North at Kletzch Park.

Your best bet may be throwing glow spoons at fresh King Salmon at night, and fishing for the elusive and nocturnal Brown Trout in any of the Harbors that these rivers and creeks enter into.

I'm going to do my best to get out this weekend and find something biting. If I do, you'll be the first to know.

Glad to be back in Chicago and out of Orlando, FL...
-Tom Harris

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's Trout Week : World Record Rainbow Trout

2 Records in one week. A Canadian broke the old world record (held by his twin brother). That along with Tom Healy's world record Brown Trout make this a week to remember for trout fisherman around the world.

Here's the story from ESPN outdoors:

The 36th week of 2009 will forever be known as "Trout Week" in North America.

On Sept. 5, Canadian angler Sean Konrad obliterated the IGFA all-tackle world rainbow record with a 48-pound rainbow out of Saskatchewan's Lake Diefenbaker, eclipsing a 2-year-old record held by his twin brother.

Four days later, retired construction manager Tom Healy eclipsed the world German brown mark with a 41-pound, 7-ounce monster on Michigan's Manistee River.

Two trout, 89 pounds, less than a week apart. Here are their stories:

Courtesy The Fishing Geeks This 48-pound rainbow is just the latest in a string of world-record rainbow trout that Adam and Sean Konrad have pulled out of Lake Diefenbaker in Canada.
The rainbow warriors

Even looking at the photos, it takes some suspension of disbelief to wrap your mind around a 48-pound rainbow trout. The dimensions seem freakish and otherwordly -- 42 inches long with a 32-inch girth -- and the tiny head looks like a science experiment gone wrong attached to the basketball-round rotundity of the belly.

It's classic triploid rainbow, though -- enormous girth, wide tail, thick caudal peduncle -- and as of around midnight on Sept. 5, it became the new (certification-pending) all-tackle world record.

Just another late-summer night for Sean and Adam Konrad, the Canadian twins who, over the course of the past two years, have ascended to cult status rivaling that of Mario and Luigi. Only for fishing geeks, not gaming geeks.

Fishing on the same impoundment where his younger brother had broken one of the Holy Grails of fishing records in 2007 with a 43-pound, 10-ounce IGFA all-tackle record rainbow -- a fish that broke a 37-year-old mark -- Sean Konrad pushed the rainbow record just shy of the 50-pound mark with an amorphous 48-pound triploid that absorbed a Rapala on Diefenbaker, a 106,000-acre impoundment of the South Saskatchewan and Que'Appele Rivers in the windswept Canadian Prairie country 140 miles west of Regina.

"Adam had been joking with me earlier, 'You know, man, we have to get you a 40-pounder in the books,' because I hadn't gotten one yet," Sean Konrad said. "Adam already had the 43-pounder.

"He caught a 41.2 that holds the 20-pound line class, and a 40.1 that holds the 12-pound record. I kept telling him 'I know, I know, it'll happen. I'll get one.' Well, I got one."

The Konrads' mind-blowing success at Diefenbaker -- Sean estimates they've caught more than 300 fish over 20 pounds and several over 30 -- has turned them into the fishing ninjas as much as the fishing geeks: As a necessity, almost all of their fishing is done at night, when they can escape the squadrons of spies and tagalongs trying to ferret out their honey holes.

"If there are people out, we don't even try to fish," Sean said. "We have so many locals trying to figure out what we're doing, we pretty much limit it to nighttime now."

Consequently, Sean Konrad's first look at his 48-pounder was via headlamp, in the pitch-black middle of the night. After wrestling the big pig into the net and guesstimating that it was an honest 40, the twins loaded the fish into a cooler, iced it down and brought it to a certified post-office scale the next morning.

That scale pegged at 40, but it wasn't until they subsequently put the fish on an IGFA-certified Chatillon scale that Sean realized that he'd blasted his twin's world record by nearly 5 pounds.

"When we weighed it we started freaking out," Konrad said. "I told Adam, 'It's 48,' and he was stunned. He goes 'WHAT ... 48 ... WHAT?'"

Diefenbaker's rainbow production is the result of commercially raised sterile rainbows (triploids) escaping local growing pens in 2000, when roughly a half-million fish entered the lake through a damaged net at CanGro Fish Farm. Because they're genetically engineered to have three sets of chromosomes instead of two, their growth rate is substantially higher than a diploid rainbow because all of their living energy goes into feeding, with no physical stressors related to spawning.

Biologists estimate that Lake Diefenbaker's trout could survive for upwards of 20 years, but the lake is almost certainly on the downward side of a steep growth curve that started with the original half-million escapees. That said, Sean Konrad doesn't discount the possibility of a 50-pounder.

"We've hooked a couple of fish that have almost completely spooled us before we lost them," he says. "It seems there might be a bigger fish out there, but I do think we're pushing about up against the biggest."

Additional triploids are stocked directly into the lake as well, where they immediately belly up to a buffet of forage that includes everything from minnows to crayfish.

"We think they eat everything," Konrad said. "We've found crayfish inside of 'em, weeds, minnows, small whitefish ... there's a big forage base. I suppose once the lake runs out of food, they'd die off, but I don't see that happening. There's really not that many trout, and it seems like there's always going to be food available."

Lake Michigan's biggest

Three days after Tom Healy eclipsed a 17-year-old world record with a 41-pound, 7-ounce German brown pulled out of Michigan's Manistee River, residents of the small port village of Manistee are still celebrating the biggest star to hit town since James Earl Jones began acting at the Ramsdell Theater in the 1950s.

Healy's fish, which he caught Sept. 9 on the Manistee with guide Tim Roller of Ultimate Outfitters (see photos of the fish here on, has grabbed screen time on CNN, and has been the hot thread topic on fishing and outdoors forums from one end of the continent to the other.

For a former logging community and fishing village of 6,500, the big brown is a big deal.

"One thing that's surprised me a little -- and I guess it shouldn't have -- is that the people of Manistee are really jacked up about this [fish]," said Roller, who has been guiding the Manistee since 1993. "It's a cool little city, but it's a small port city that's kinda quiet. I think everybody understands the potential of what it could mean to the city."

That potential certainly includes a spike in traffic through the businesses of downtown Manistee, and on the waters of the city's namesake river. Roller saw a noticeable increase in the number of anglers on the water Friday, his first day back on the river after a day off to respond to hundreds of e-mails and phone queries from around the country.

"Today was noticeably different," Roller said of the Friday afternoon traffic on the lower river. "I can only imagine what it's going to be like on the weekend. I guess I never really thought about going to the river looking to catch a world record, but that's one thing we all have to figure out. What next? No matter what, it's a pretty special thing to be a part of."

Healy, a retired construction manager from Rockford, has fished with Roller for 15 years, but when Roller slipped the net over Healy's bubba brown and they got a good look at the fish, all semblance of protocol went out the window as the sheer size of the beast started to sink in.

"The first picture of that fish we got in the boat, I handed my cell phone over and said, 'Here, take a picture!' but we had to wait forever because I was laughing too hard to pick [the fish] up," Roller said. "I don't really have a good concept of how long we fought that fish because you lost the concept of time. I'm still just trying to get a handle on it all."

The fish -- if everything checks out with the IGFA -- would surpass the standing all-tackle world record of 40 pounds, 4 ounces caught in Arkansas' Little Red River in 1992. It easily breaks the Michigan state record of 36 pounds, 13 ounces caught in 2007, and, according to Roller, registers as the heaviest anadromous fish ever caught on the Lake Michigan system.

"We've had a number of browns in Lake Michigan in the 20s, but we've never had a salmon or trout in the 40s," Roller said. "This is the one record we felt like we could get on Lake Michigan. We know we're never going to get the world record salmon or steelhead because of Alaska and the West Coast fisheries, but we thought maybe we could get [the German brown record]."

Michigan DNR biologists Todd Kalish and Mark Tonello weighed the fish in front of a live TV camera from local news stations.

Healy hooked the big brown while drifting the Manistee, casting a No. 8 shad-colored Rapala Shad Rap to shoreline structure. It's a common technique in the late summer and early fall, when the Manistee's salmon are aggressively pursuing forage.

"I call it 'bass fishing on steroids,' because we backrow and pound the banks," Roller said. "Most of the hits are literally so hard they almost take the rod out of your hands."

Healy was geared with a Cabela's XML medium-heavy 9-foot rod and Prodigy reel spooled with 40-pound Power Pro.

Great Lakes Angler : Now on Facebook

Great Lakes Angler is now available for viewing on Facebook.

Go ahead and click on the photo above, or the link on the left sidebar to navigate to the GLA Facebook site, if you're already a member of facebook, I encourage you to become a fan!

Interview of Anglers Who Landed World Record Brown Trout : Manistee Michigan

From Dale Bowman at the Chicago Sun Times, interesting that they caught it on a number 7 black/gray shad rap, I caught perch on those this year...

The catch of a lifetime

Healy reels in a monster surprise in world-record brown trout

September 11, 2009

In a timeless battle with Tom Healy, a monstrous fish surged up and down the Manistee River on Wednesday morning.

''There is no concept of time when fighting a fish like that,'' Capt. Tim Roller said. ''Maybe it was 10 or 15 minutes.''

That ''fish like that'' will end up as truly timeless as the world record brown trout of 41 pounds, 7 ounces.

It was so big it couldn't even jump. ''It tried to jump but only porpoised,'' Roller said.

The morning started ordinarily enough with Roller of Ultimate Outfitters ( fishing with two clients of 15 years, Healy and Bob Woodhouse, for king salmon.

They were casting crankbaits inside the river near Manistee, Mich., and had caught some kings.

About 8:30, Healy, the retired president of a construction company, hooked into his fish while casting a No. 7 black and gray Shad Rap.

The fight was ''super hard, then when it was done, it was done,'' Roller said.

Only at the end did the truth of the matter start to sink in: this was far more than a 20-pound-plus king.

''You just don't think of a brown with a fish of that size,'' Roller said.

The belly looked white as is typical of a fresh king when it came to the net, then they saw the spot pattern. Roller's first thought was maybe an Atlantic salmon, then he knew and did not believe.

''I knew what I was looking at but I couldn't get my mind to believe it,'' Roller said.

They got it into the net. Then the brown trout bottomed out Roller's 30-pound BogaGrip scale with 15 or 18 inches of the fish still in the water.

They measured it at 44 inches with a 27-inch girth.

Roller knew he had something special, so he called fellow Capt. Mark Chmura, the king of those who chase big browns. When Roller told him what he had, Chmura pulled his trip off the river and got a certified scale. On that scale it topped 40 pounds.

The world record, according to the International Game Fish Association, is the 40-pound, 4-pound brown caught by Howard Collins from the Little Red River in Arkansas on May 9, 1992.

''We looked at each other,'' Roller said. Chmura started making calls and doing research. They called fisheries biologists in Cadillac, Mich. Todd Kalish and Mark Tonello came and watched as the scale was reset and witnessed the official weighing at 41-7.

''I was in awe,'' said Kalish, the Central Lake Michigan Management Unit manager. ''It is an amazing fish, one of the nicest fish I ever saw.''

They measured it officially at 43?253-222? inches.

''This is a real testament to the world that Michigan has very diverse natural resources available,'' Kalish said. ''Among that diversity you have potential to catch a world record.''

Lake Michigan is no stranger to monster browns. The Illinois record (36-11.5) was caught by Deva Vranek off Chicago on June 22, 1997.

Because the fisheries biologists were there to help with the paperwork and formally identify it as a brown, Healy's fish is already considered the Michigan record and should be the world record as soon as the proper paperwork is submitted.

As scientists, Kalish and Tonello were so excited they gained permission to take some scales and already aged the fish at 6 years old. They also took a tissue sample so Michigan State staff can analyze for what strain it is. Kalish wondered if it might even be a wild strain.

''The reality of it is, I was pretty doggone lucky,'' Healy told the Grand Rapids Press.

Original Photography by Great Lakes Angler : Point Betsie Michigan

Two weeks ago I took my Nikon D300 and some lenses out under a full moon to Point Betsie and put this series together. These corrugated steel piers jut out from the seawall in front of Point Betsie.

Corrugated Steel and Fresh Water

Enjoy the photographs, lake Michigan is really wonderful under the moonlight and stars. There were a couple of boats out trolling glow spoons for Salmon and Trout, and a couple of boaters coming in from days spent on the water. I count myself lucky to have had the chance to bring these images to you, as it means I was blessed with the time to be there in the first place.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grand Haven Michigan Pier Salmon Fishing Report : 9/13/2009

With enough time to walk the pier on my way out of Muskegon this morning I decided a check on the north arm of the Grand Haven break walls would be fun.

Many anglers were out, only 1 salmon was on a stringer, caught half way out on a shiner on the bottom, landed on the north side of the pier. It was a King Salmon and looked to weigh roughly 5-6 pounds.
It sounds like pier fisherman have been doing well with glow spoons early in the morning (2-5 a.m.) there has not been much of a night or sunrise bite.

I was not allowed enough time to get out and swing for salmon this weekend but I was fortunate enough to get out to a private lake with some cousins and land some largemouth. I will report on that tomorrow.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New World Record Brown Trout Landed From Manistee River, Michigan

The Great Lakes does it again!

This 43.75 inch 41 pound 7.25 oz. monster Brown Trout was landed on the Manistee River, Michigan yesterday. The fish was taken on a crank bait and was landed by Tom Healy while fishing with Tim Roller's charter service. I'll bet that's a few hundred dollars he doesn't regret spending.

This link will take you on over to Tim Roller's Guide Service :

I would imagine that the increasing biomass of Round Goby we have seen in recent years has contributed to so many large fish being taken this year. I myself have noticed an increase in the size of both King Salmon and Brown Trout that I have personally caught or seen landed. Let us hope that the fish continue to get larger and chip away at the ever present carpet of Round Goby in the lake.

The Manistee River is just south of the Betsie River, which I fished much of last week, looks like I should have headed an hour south and threw cranks all day for a shot at this big fellow.

Things on the Betsie have been constant, a slow trickle of King Salmon moving from big hole to big deep hole on a daily basis. The next big rain should drive them up in droves. My cousin says that fish are at the dam and jumping, and that anglers on the piers in Frankfort were occasionally hooking up.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Crystal Lake (Michigan) Fishing Report : 9/5/2009

Today I took a younger cousin out to a family secret bit of structure in Crystal Lake, Michigan that used to be a secret spot for Yellow Perch. We took a few minnows from the wire minnow trap and oared out past the blue line to spot X.

Within seconds my little cousin Lieschen had a killer rock bass on the end of her rod. Over the next hour or so we pulled in 50 rock bass between the two of us. None smaller than 6", and the biggest being around 12".

Foot long rock bass fight hard, and it's really a nice change to just pull in fish after fish all afternoon long while laying with our backs against the gunwale of the aluminum row boat. A perfect afternoon on a perfect lake. The only thing that could have been better would have been to bring in some surprise Perch, Small Mouth Bass, or Lake Trout.

I might have one last shot at Frankfort Shore Salmon, I'm not counting on landing one, but if anything happens, you'll be the first to know.

Until then, I'll see ya out there!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lake Michigan Salmon Fishing Report : Frankfort

Put the Kayak into the water this afternoon around 1:00 p.m. not exactly prime Salmon fishing time but I thought it would be worth it to log another hour or two dragging Dipsy Divers in the Kayak.

Paddled out to around 20 feet of water, dropped the #1 Dipsy, set at 0, put it down around 15 feet and headed toward the gap at Frankfort Harbor. One fisherman on the south pier reported no action. I trolled through the harbor and around the mudline. Two other boaters out dragging lines with no action. I decided to pull lines and recover a couple of spoons from the rocks that I saw as I floated over them. I successfully nabbed a nice glowing K/O wobbler and a Wonderbread 3/4 oz. Krocodile. Sweet.

Paddled back and was content as I got some things figured out, such as that clamp on rod holders will not suffice, and that it is possible to secure the rod by putting it through my knees and using a fishing box to keep it in place. I have yet to land a Michigan King Salmon and my days are very numbered. Keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow will be the day.

Until then, see you on the water.

600 Trees to be Dropped into Brule River via Helicopter

From TV:6 Fox U.P.

DNR drops trees to attract trout.

By Brad Soroka Wednesday, September 02, 2009 at 3:56 p.m.

SCOTT LAKE -- The Brule River was once known as a blue ribbon trout stream. Recent logging practices along its banks, however, have taken away the trout's natural habitats.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is taking matters into its own hands by dropping entire trees into the river to attract the fish.

"The large, woody debris installations are trees, full size trees, root ball intact, flown in from an off-site area and put in the river and along its banks using a helicopter. This mimics what would happen in nature--naturally--if logging didn't reduce the number of trees along the river corridor," said Mark Mylchreest, DNR Fisheries Technician.

So with the cooperation of the Wisconsin DNR, the U.S. Forest Service and a $70,000 grant from Wisconsin Electric, the chopper was airborne, and it was time to drop some trees.

"They can lift up to 4,500 pounds, which would be an 8 to 10 inch (wide) tree with the root ball intact. They'll be placed in the river at strategic locations to narrow the river, increase the flow, the depth and provide trout habitats," Mylchreest said.

A total of 600 trees will be dropped along three miles of the river over the next three years. The DNR said they hope where there are fish habitats, there will be fish; and where there are fish, there will be fishermen.

It's always nice to see someone going (flying) the extra mile for trout.