Charlevoix trout tournament 2006: Smaller but better
Written by Petoskey News-Review   
Thursday, 15 June 2006 01:42

The Lake Charlevoix Area Trout Tournament took place over the weekend, despite poor weather. The wind created huge waves on the big lake on both Friday and Saturday.

The wind conditions made it difficult and uncomfortable for small boats on Lake Michigan so many of them retreated to the comparatively sheltered waters of Lake Charlevoix. Unfortunately, the fishing was much better on the big lake so the larger boats had a clear advantage. The larger boats had another advantage too in that they could range out to the off-shore waters that usually hold the steelhead at this time of the year. We will review the action and the results by fish species, covering each of the four divisions.

BROWN TROUT: Minimum size for entry 20 inches. Years ago, there were more brown trout than anything else entered in the tourney. I remember one year, fishing with Jerry Rakoczy, when our boat landed 24 brown trout, all from Lake Charlevoix, in two days of fishing, and two of them went on the leader board. Now, it is very difficult to find a brown in Lake Charlevoix and the Lake Michigan waters seem to have a scarcity of them as well. Only two brown trout were registered in the tourney, a fish of 9.04 pounds caught by Joe Powell of Charlevoix, and a fish of 5.58 pounds caught by Barry Anderson. Both fish came from Lake Charlevoix. The lack of brown trout in Lake Charlevoix is another confirmation that this water is now purely a walleye fishery.

LAKE TROUT: Minimum size for entry 24 inches. The lakers seemed to be in pretty good supply but perhaps a little smaller than usual. A few of the first fish on the leader board came from Lake Charlevoix, caught by the smaller boats on that windy Friday.  They were subsequently bumped by larger fish from Lake Michigan and there was quite a bit of turnover or bumping even on Sunday as larger fish came in. The top fish and the winner of the Blanchard Trophy for the largest lake trout want to Chris Mikulski of Charlevoix, a tournament director, with a laker of 13.34 pounds. Second prize went to Will Skrocki with a fish of 11.66 pounds with the third place fish of 11.10 pounds taken by Paul Musselman. The 20th fish on the leader board was 6.66 pounds, which was rather small. In some years in the past, it has taken a fish of close to 10 pounds to even get on the board.

STEELHEAD: Minimum size for entry 20 inches. There were quite a few steelhead taken, all from Lake Michigan, and there was even some bumping, with more than 20 fish of the minimum size brought in over the weekend. In many years in the past, there have been many fewer fish caught, so this is a good trend. In a few years, there has only been a handful of steelhead registered. The best steelhead fishing in the area, at this time of year, is way off shore and it is not uncommon for boats to go out there 20 miles or more, and some of them get clear to the other side of the Fox Islands. This gives a clear advantage to the larger boats since it is unwise to venture that far out without some size and two engines. The steelhead are often high in the water out there with anglers looking for the fish around temperature breaks and scum lines. The winning steelhead was taken by Bill Mathers of Petoskey and it was a huge fish of 14.18 pounds. Greg Musselman took the number two fish at 12.30 pounds and the third place went to Nathan Diller at 11.58 pounds.  All of the steelhead were much larger than average with the 20th place fish at 6.66 pounds.

SALMON: Minimum size for entry 24 inches. Salmon were restored to the fourth division for fishing this year, after a two-year hiatus. The tournament directors made the change for two reasons; first, there were quite a few salmon caught last year and, of course, this year the ports to the south of us have been doing quite well on kings, early in the season. It was obviously a good decision since there were many salmon caught - the most, as a matter of fact, that I can remember for any tournament.  The leader board, with 20 places, was full and there was even some bumping. All of the fish came from Lake Michigan and many of them were caught by the larger boats, way off shore. First place, the $1,000 check, went to Matt Mikulski of Petoskey, another tournament worker, with a big king weighing 23.6 pounds. Second place fish was another unusually large fish, weighing 22.6 pounds, caught by Charles Gamble. Third place was taken by Sam Washburn with a fish of 19.38 pounds. The 20th fish on the leader board was a fish of 8.02 pounds, caught by that same Bill Mathers of steelhead fame. It was clear that the salmon were large as well as plentiful.

The $100 port prizes were taken by Kerry Moore on Friday with a 15.24 pound salmon; by Matt Mikulski on Saturday with his big salmon and by Sam Washburn on Sunday with his large king. It was interesting to note that there were a total of 10 cash awards won by folks named Musselman and four by Mikulskis. All the first place awards went to local (Charlevoix or Petoskey) anglers with obviously good participation by the local crowd. A chat with directors Dave Juilleret and Shannon Reynolds confirmed that the tournament is largely a local affair with an estimated 65 percent of the anglers from around the Charlevoix-Petoskey-Boyne City area. A total of 447 anglers were registered for the tournament, down a bit from recent years and down a bunch from the highs of 700-900 anglers years ago. The decline is generally attributed to the poor fishing in Lake Charlevoix in recent years and that situation has apparently led to the loss of the Canadian contingent that once came down from the Sault Ste. Marie area. With Lake Charlevoix out of the picture, the mix has gone to fewer, but bigger, boats that are better suited for Lake Michigan.

An enthusiastic crowd stuck around for the awards and prize drawings in East Park Sunday afternoon. In addition to all the cash awards for big fish, there was a drawing in which every registered angler was represented with such prizes as a canoe, fishing rods and reels, electronics, a trolling motor and all sorts of great gear. The kids enjoyed the trout fishing in the pool on Saturday. Some of the fish they caught were released into Round Lake and subsequently caught again on Sunday.

The fishing tournament should get a definite boost from the results this year, especially with the salmon fishing good again. We can expect more participation next year but the hard-core anglers won't mind if the numbers are smaller again. That would mean that the prize money, unchanging, would be competed for by fewer anglers, making the odds better. And, of course, the smaller number of participants also means that the odds of winning a prize in the drawing would be improved as well.


You need to login or register to post comments.