ALPENA — It might be called the Michigan Brown Trout Festival, but anglers fishing this week in the tournament are sure to catch a variety of fish.
According to local fishing experts, brown trout may be the most difficult fish to locate and catch, but they expect plenty of lake trout, rainbow trout, walleye and salmon to be caught. and weighed.
Tim Cwalinski, senior fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said he expects the fishery this year to be on par with recent years.
He said coho, king and Atlantic salmon would end up in the fishing boats, and lake trout and walleye would likely be the most prevalent species on the scale during the nine-day tournament.
Cwalinski said he does not expect a high number of brown trout to be caught, however.
“Diversity,” Cwalinski said. “That’s what I expect from anglers to see a diverse catch. We have seen more brown trout in recent years, which is not very telling. I think if someone catches a brown trout they should get a prize because there aren’t many of them there.
Trout Scout Charter Captain Ed Retherford has been a charter captain for decades and spends countless hours fishing Lake Huron in and around Alpena.
He said walleye fishing has been slow lately due to cooler than normal temperatures, but large lake trout are found in abundance miles from shore in deep water. He said anglers who venture further north to Almost Isle and Rogers City will have a better chance of landing salmon and rainbow trout.
“That’s where we get what I call silverfish,” Retherford said. “Because it’s a tournament without limits. People carry them from the Nordmeer to Rogers City.
The Nordmeer is a shipwreck about seven miles northeast of Thunder Bay Island and a popular place for anglers to try their luck.
Retherford said he believes brown trout are making a comeback in Lake Huron near Alpena and he expects there will be several that will fill out the leaderboard during the tournament.
He said this year he has seen a lot of brown trout caught, some of them large.
“It will all depend on the water temperature and if they can stay between 58 and 62 degrees at about 40 feet and they will catch fish,” he said. “Not many, as there haven’t been many plantings, but so far this year I’ve seen three that weighed at least 13 pounds and some nice ones.”
Fishing for this year’s festival begins today and ends July 24. Fish will be weighed throughout the day, with many anglers showing their catch in the late afternoon and early evening. Watching the weigh-in is free to the public.