With forecasted highs in the upper 30’s this past Saturday and needing to scratch an itch to use the long rods one last time in 2013, a nice long ride along the lakeshore was in order to Port Washington to tangle with some Brown Trout.
There is a warm water discharge from the WE Energies Power Plant which keeps Port Washington’s Harbor open all winter long, and also attracts Brown Trout from Lake Michigan where they like to hang out in the warm water. Shad are also attracted to the warm water, which offers these Trout an abundance of food at times. All of these variables put together can offer some intense open water fishing action in the middle of the winter!
This was our first time fishing in Port Washington, so we didn’t know what exactly to expect. As the sun hit the horizon, we began fishing along with quite a few other anglers. It was surprising to see so many other people open water fishing as well, since we are in the midst of ice fishing season here in Wisconsin!
The morning started out slow for us, but we watched a few Brown Trout get caught by others in the area before we made a small move which paid huge dividends! Once we moved, it was instantly game on! Jigging Gulp on darter head jigs was our presentation of choice, but we witnessed fish being taken on spoons, spawn, shiners, and even crankbaits.
In the first 30 minutes we easily landed 10 Brown Trout and lost just as many light biters and fish that escaped before we could get them to the net. It was astonishing to me the sheer numbers of Brown Trout in the harbor, as well as how aggressive these fish seemed to be. At one point, I caught 3 Brown Trout in 4 casts! The fish were really hitting our Gulp as we slowly popped it along the bottom.
As the morning wore on, we continued to land Trout after Trout, primarily in the two to four pound range. Chase managed to land a seven pounder, which was fun after catching so many cookie cutters. I also had a large Trout on briefly before it shook the hook.
We also landed five Northern Pike throughout the day that were mixed in with the Brown Trout, and ranged from 24”-30”. It was fun to land a few Pike, as we didn’t expect to find them here.
By noon the non-stop action had subsided, so we decided to make a move to the other side of the Harbor. This move never yielded another fish, but we were able to learn a new spot for another day! Overall we had a great first experience in Port Washington, and hope to get back again soon!
The only negative aspect of Port Washington seemed to be everyone’s desire to keep everything they caught. There were lots of 2-4 pound Brown Trout taken out on just this one day, which puts things into perspective for me. It’s no surprise that large Brown Trout are rare these days, as many of our stocked fish never even make it to be 5 pounds! I totally understand that anyone with a license is entitled to keep their limit, but I also see the big picture of less big fish being caught in the future. Keeping a few fish for dinner or the smoker is great, but letting a few fish go to grow up is even more rewarding for me.