Matt had been talking about visiting Milwaukee for a while but always with sigh that he would never realistically make it out there. I thought I would help my husband live out his dream. I planned the trip 6 months in advance, initially thinking I would surprise him a week before, but it was eating away at me and I had to tell. Also, Matt was miserable because the fishing was not good here at home so I needed to tell him to lift his spirits. So I told him at Thanksgiving with our families there to share in the excitement.
Friends would think it was funny that I was surprising him on a trip to Milwaukee, they expected me to say the bahamas or hawaii but those who know him well were stoked for him. Finally after a lot of waiting the big week came. The fishing and the weather was really bad weeks before the trip and we kept our fingers crossed that it would pick up as soon as we got there. I really didn’t have an expectations going into this trip and was in it for the adventure.
We stayed at the historical landmark hotel, the Astor, which was a little bit creepy. I had visions of jack Nickolson popping his head around a corner REDRUM but it had a very comfortable bed and easy access to the Milwaukee harbor, grocery store and restaurants.
First day, our Captain, Chris Busalacci of Salmon Specialist, picked us up and drove us to the other side of the harbor where we got out on the water at greylight. We started catching early early run Coho (the earliest in a while) which was very cool to catch my first salmon. Then the football size browns starting coming to the boat. These fish put Utah fish to shame. They are so healthy looking and put up a good fight all the way to the net. The fish just kept getting bigger and bigger. multiple 7-lbs., 9 lbs., 10 lbs. I can see how this could get addicting real quick. Sometimes two or three big fish on at a time. The bite was on fire and we were in awe in how good a fishery Lake Michigan is. It was already a banner day and then Matt hooked into a monster brown. Unfortunately this one rolled viciously and snapped the Swivel Clip right behind the boat and got away. Most who know my husband know that he couldn’t let that one go for a while.
The wind picked up so we left our first spot for one of Chris’s secret spots (don’t worry chris we won’t give it away). Just a few passes and I was hooked into the biggest trout of my life. I’ve caught everything you could imagine, yellowfin, roosterfish, yellowtail, sailfish, blue marlin, dorado, jacks you name it but this fish was working me. It kept pulling the planer board through the water so I had to let line out to let it come back up and then click back over and reel. Just when I thought I had it almost close enough to the boat to untie the planer board it pulled more and more line out. My arm was killing me but finally I got it close enough for Chris to untie the planer board and then the fight continued. I kept the tension on the line and loosened my drag as it got closer to the boat. Then backed up, reeled and prayed that Matt netted my fish (I couldn’t see the fish at this point). Just as he did the lure popped out of the fishes mouth. OMG. We all looked at it as the net was laid into the boat and our jaws dropped. Well as you can see from the pictures, it was so big I couldn’t even hold it properly so I gave it the bear hug. After a few pictures I sent it on its way.
We continued to catch some football size 5-lbs brown trout that were super fun to catch and headed in. We walked around Milwaukee that night looking for a restaurant that served walleye. After little luck we ate at the Water Street Brewery where the beer was good but the food was not. Water Street is famous for its hip, young bar scene which was cool to check out. This was my first visit to the midwest, and I was impressed. Downtown is clean and has a lot of character. We were already dreaming of how we could move here and have access to trophy trout year-round.
Next early morning session we ran out to the secret spot. The fishing was a little slower but the trout were bigger. Matt was still talking about the big one he lost the day before. but not for long. He hooked into a big one that was taking line like it was nothing. He battled it for a while and got in the net. We were so excited, to see another Big fish and Matt could already envision his name moving up the Brown Baggers list.
We caught more nice chunk’rs and then the wind picked and we headed within the safety of the harbor to troll. There we had a few bites but nothing stuck. We ate this night at a great Irish restaurant (highly recommend), County Clare, where I had my first Guinness. It actually was pretty good. In my head I always thought it would taste like syrup. Every Friday night, restaurants in Milwaukee offer Fish Fry’s, Matt got that… Which looked super good.
We both got our 15+ so anything the third day was extra. We ran out closer to Racine and were catching more of the Lake Michigan standard fatties. I hooked into a bigger fish that was jumping behind the boat. It danced with me, I reeled then it took line and dragged the planer board under. I let out the line to let the planer board come to the surface then reeled again…did that like 6 times. It put up a long fight. Matt and Chris got a better look at it as it got closer…a 20lbs. Lake Trout. As it got right behind the boat it rolled like a shark and cut my line. Bummed but stoked on the fun fight.
After we were done fishing, we got a tour of the river as Chris got his bigger boat out of storage for the year. Of course Matt had a line out the whole time we were traveling 5 mph.
Our Milwaukee trip was a huge success and we look forward to making it a tradition ! Who knows how long the Lake Michigan fishery will continue to produce trophy trout. Thanks to our very knowledgeable Captain who got us on the fish and made my husbands dreams come true. See you next year.
Now for the next chapture in our lives. Kids? Hahaha, Matt should have read the disclaimer.
Thanks for the adventure, Matt! – the Wife