Massive brown trout is a state record-breaker
Written by Leelanau Enterprise   
Tuesday, 22 May 2007 15:55

It's been a long time since Jack Duffy was this excited over a big brown trout – since 1976, to be exact, when his fish set a new state record.  Duffy's 31-pound, 4-ounces brown trout held the state record for 10 years, and has subsequently been passed by several fish. Now word has come that a friend has moved the state record ahead by a couple pounds with a brown caught within a few miles of where Duffy set the record some 31 years ago.

CASEY RICHEY holds a 36-pound, 13-ounce brown trout that he landed off the Frankfort pier. Pending final certification, the brown trout will become a state record.

Casey Richey, owner of Casey's Custom Flys shop in Frankfort, boated the 36-pound, 13-ounce fish while trolling a No. 9 Rapala some 100 yards off pier heads between Elberta and Frankfort. His son, Shane, was with him.

As was the case when Duffy set angling circles abuzz, some questions remain about whether the fish is a brown trout or an Atlantic salmon. A biologist is reasonably sure tests will confirm it to be a brown.

Either way, Richey has a state record with pounds to spare. The state record for brown trout was 34 pounds, 10 ounces; the record Atlantic salmon is 32 pounds, 10 ounces.

The new record holder is the nephew of popular outdoor journalist Dave Richey.

Duffy, a charter captain based in Leland who operates under the name White Cap Charters, is hoping anglers across the state notice where the trout was taken. His record catch was taken in Platte Bay.

"It's good for the state of Michigan and the Great Lakes, and it's exciting," said Duffy. "I can go back to when I broke the record, and it's exciting."

The catch comes at a time when concerns are being raised about the future of sport fishing in the Great Lakes. Salmon numbers plummeted last year in Lake Huron following the depletion of alewife stocks due to changes in the aquatic food chain blamed on invasive species such as gobies and zebra mussels.

Some had predicted the problem would soon spread to the Lake Michigan fishery.

"I'm surprised," said Duffy of the new record. "But brown trout fishing was very good last week down there … and I've heard the salmon fishing has turned good in the southern part of the lake."

Traditionally salmon fishing on Lake Michigan turns on off downstate ports before waters off Leelanau County warm.

Meanwhile, he added, lake trout are being seen on graphs and caught off the "first bank" out of Leland.

While catching a fat, state-record brown trout may help dispel questions about the health of the Lake Michigan sport fishing industry, Duffy is hoping two other potential setbacks to charter captains don't intervene: the state's poor economy, and high gas prices.

"I've kept my prices the same this year, so hopefully the (gas) prices don't go through the roof," he said.
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